Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Salaam

Sara Aniqah Malik
Vault (Cavern)
to

The quiet moments of Ramadan for Mariam (Yasmin Wilde) and her daughter Rema (Raagni Sharma) are disturbed by shocking events. A pig's head is thrown through their window and days later a neighbour brings news of a terrorist attack in London by three men who are believed to be Muslim.

Several times in the show, we fleetingly see the tableau of a woman having her scarf ripped from her head.

Mariam seems to be able to take these events in her stride, possibly a result of a lifetime of enduring racism. But Rema begins to feel sick and less willing to go out. News of a Muslim being run over outside a Mosque adds to the sense of a hostile world, and Rema doesn’t feel she can draw on the support of her religion in the way her mother has done.

Into this difficult situation arrives the neighbour Ellie, (Laura Waldren) who wants to show support after hearing about the incident with the pig's head. But when she posts something of Rema’s without permission, the online response is more than just the praise Ellie had expected.

The cast give fine performances and the characters are dealt with sympathetically. The writing can falter a little in the occasional awkward openings to conversations and the accompanying music of violin and voice though intended to create a mood did feel excessive.

Yet the situations depicted by the play are believable, make us care what happens to the people depicted and importantly draw attention to the horrific racism and persecution experienced by Muslims in Britain. In 2017, there was a record number of anti-Muslim incidents with a 56% increase in vandalism of an anti-Muslim nature on 2016, 60% of the victims being woman and 80% of the the perpetrators being men.

Keith Mckenna