Immigrant Diaries and #changingbritain sound mighty serious. For a good reason, directly addresing one of the issues of our age can get rather charged, fast. Which is maybe why this show feels so refreshing.
In the Immigrant Diaries Sajeela Kershi hosts and curates a group of six that teach and tell stories of their immigrations. The speakers range from comedians to rock stars, with the odd MTV presenter thrown in for good measure.
Sajeela is the glue that holds it all together. Her energetic, self-deprecating humour sets the tone for the whole evening. She seems unable to resist telling any story that pops into her head, giving the whole evening an impromptu feeling. You feel you are in the pub with friends having a laugh, rather than in the Queen Elizabeth Hall.
The stand out performers are unquestionably Aziz Ibrahim and Inder Manocha. Ibrahim weaves a tale of a life in music, being the only Asian in Asia (the band), bringing a conservative girlfriend to a brothel and connecting to people through music. He clutches his guitar on the stage with rock star swag, breathlessly going from story to story.
Inder is proof that sometimes you just need a professional comedian. It is not that the others are bad, but he brings a kind of storytelling to the event that is far more rehearsed and on point. Coming just after the break his comedy brings the crowd to roaring laughter.
With six storytellers and a host it feels a bit rushed. More time with each presenter would be wonderful, as would an actual discussion between them. Then again you can‘t have your cake and eat it too.
When the show goes back up it will be with a different cast each time, although I understand that Sajeela will be a constant. This is storytelling at its loveliest, creating a bond between folk through both shared experiences and differences. The less you feel like an immigrant the more you need to see this show, it will give you a fresh perspective. That may be a cliche but it is true.
Review written by Ingimar Sverrisson.
Immigrant Diaries was shown at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre) on Friday 24th April. For this year’s shows being performed at Alchemy 2015, visit here…