- Gareth K Vile
- 20 August 2021
Autobiographical Fringe work about a strong mother helping her daughter to cope as an Asian in Glasgow
Lubna Kerr's Tickbox acts as an introduction to a life well lived. The performer-writer has crafted a monologue that uses her autobiography to gently reflect on the challenges of growing up as a child of migrants. While the humour does not always come off, and potentially fascinating stories are introduced and dismissed in a few lines, Kerr pokes at stereotypes, strives to understand white privilege and ignorance, and ultimately celebrates the lives of her parents as well as her own accomplishments.
Kerr's charisma is central to the production's success with the rather limited dramaturgy – which focuses on recitation – concentrating on direct storytelling. Building a solid rapport with an audience, Kerr begins with the arrival of her family in Glasgow, and conjures a series of characters including a pompous Brownie leader, a chippy neighbour and, most notably, her mother. This range of relationships sketch out Kerr's experiences of Glaswegian culture's attempt to grapple with her Pakistani heritage.
Although she has great respect for both her parents, Kerr's mother is the most consistent and powerful presence. From supporting her daughter in a school sports day with feminist consequences, through her later career as a teacher of Muslim women, her mother is a compassionate and thoughtful influence. These memories are moving, depicting a relationship between mother and daughter that forged a noble path despite the patronising attitudes of neighbours and Brown Owls.
One challenge in reviewing a deeply personal work like Tickbox lies with the importance of recognising the playwright's prerogative to tell their story in their own way, while acknowledging its limitations as drama. Many details – an inter-racial marriage, Kerr's own experiences as a mother with a career – are barely mentioned, despite promising the kind of dramatic tensions that would make for more forceful theatre. Compassionate, thoughtful and suggesting a series of stories still to be told, Tickbox is intriguing, revealing an autobiography that could speak further of experiences and characters that are too rarely given a voice.
Tickbox, Army at The Fringe, until Sunday 22 August, 6pm, £10 (£8) family ticket £7.50.