Matilda Ibini‘s 25 minute sci-fi comedy takes place in today’s Glasgow, as coronavirus changes the lives of a trio of twentysomethings.
In particular, Shahbaz played by Michael Ahomka-Lindsay, an Englishman of Ghanaian extraction, appears to be suffering from long COVID and has been confined to his home for six frustrating months. To make matters worse, Baz is unemployed.
He gets his kicks by UFO spotting, enlisting the assistance of a pair of former lovers (of each other rather than him), Trice and Zira, respectively played by Danielle Fiamanya and Laura Lovemore.
They somewhat reluctantly play the game with late-night binoculars, awaiting the arrival on earth of those much-fêted extra-terrestrials.
Both get involved in amusing working scenes, Trice recounting a hilarious runaway burglary at the supermarket in which she works, while schoolteacher Zira struggles to keep her charges safe while chatting on the phone.
What appears to be a mildly whimsical comedy becomes something far more extreme, as Baz starts behaving strangely, eliciting much sympathy and some tempting vegan treats from his loyal friends.
The twist in the tale of this play, imaginatively directed by Debbie Hannan, demonstrates the value of her collaborators, video designer Lewis den Hertog and composer and sound designer Mwen.
Shielders is a relatively lightweight but highly entertaining comedy that manages to make some trenchant points about life today under the pandemic, focusing on significant social issues but also the limited efforts of the government to improve the lot of its subjects.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher