Before seeing Isma’s About A Buoy – Adventures in Adoption, I was expecting a hilarious jive about the adoption process; the endless forms, the intrusive, and in Isma’s case highly racist, questions from the judging panel and the hilarious notion of treating babies like Tinder matches. Turns out that last part is true which made me feel very unsettled, but if Isma’s account is anything to go by, you have to be approved before you can start scrolling through babies like they’re a pair of shoes on ASOS. Phew.
What I didn’t expect however was a raw account of what it was actually like bonding with a child that already had a life before you came along. For Isma, it didn’t go so well. Her son had taken more of a liking to her wife before he finally came around and Isma stirs up those feelings as if it were still going on. Even those without kids could feel those wounds all the way in the back row of The Turret. So much so that at end of the show, instead of exhilarated clapping you just heard sniffing, nervous laughter and then full on, no shame crying. About A Buoy was compelling, telling, and original. She didn’t have a cookie cutter adoption experience and she wasn’t afraid to tell people the truth about it.
Isma certainly has a way of telling stories that makes you feel like you were there when it happened. At one point, I thought Isma was flirting with the line of “White saviour”, having adopted a black son and hoping a diet of yam and Stevie Wonder on repeat would suffice for the absence of black culture in his life (her words), that was until she told the story of why she chose the “buoy” she did.
She retold a heartbreakingly, beautiful story about looking into his eyes and realising that the reason her and her wife hadn’t been successful in the past was because he was the one they were supposed to find.
When telling the story she had a look of genuine love in her eyes that reminded everyone in the audience that there are things more important than race, than hate, than our differences. The way we are with each other, the power of relationships, the power of love and acceptance; all of those things are really the only way to make any difference in this world, and Isma’s story puts that into perspective.
With About A Buoy, Isma has used the differences that others use to marginalize you to create something that so many people love and appreciate. If you want to share some of that love and appreciation with Isma Almas, she is performing at The Turret inside The Gilded Balloon Teviot until the 26th August. Bring tissues.