Imagine if you were just hanging out with your car, swapping stories about models and modifications, and the police scooped you up and took you down to the station because they didn’t like your face? This is the bleak reality for Muslim Pakistani men, growing up in Bradford in the long shadow of the race riots. Common Wealth and Speakers Corner have collaborated with Bradford Modified Club to put together Peacephobia exploring what it means to be young, Muslim and in love with your car in contemporary Britain.
The show scores instant brownie points for being located slap bang in the middle of a car park, four storeys down from the basement at the Omni Centre (the show’s under Summerhall‘s umbrella but not at Summerhall). The stage is set in a garage, amidst car parts, the obligatory beaten up sofa and petrol fumes. Striking lighting and a thumping soundtrack create instant atmosphere though the show’s opening – as a Supra and a souped up Golf screech into view, may be all the adrenalin you need.
The production has been created with performers Casper Ahmed, Sohail Hussain, and Mohammad Ali Yunis who all have regular day jobs. Zia Ahmed has worked with them to create a love letter to souped up cars but it’s partly a love letter because their lives outside of their cars are beset with so many challenges that the distraction’s essential. When one of the guys is ‘detained again’ and then released without charge, the plaintive refrain is woven into a chilling rap. The acoustics of the fourth floor of a car park aren’t perfect when hard surfaces are mixed with mics but you’ll probably conclude that the novelty of this site-specific work is adequate compensation.
This is a spirited, funny and informative production that contains some beautiful moments. Amidst the screech of rubber and the thud of the bass, it cries out for a world in which a beard doesn’t call your loyalties into question.