by Rabiah Hussain
The Arcola Theatre Studio 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 BDL to 28 July 2018.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 85 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 2 July.
Friends who go different ways
This first play by Rabiah Hussain provides a fascinating insight into how multi-cultural Britain is not quite the success story it seems and the problems it causes when you have this new world and your roots to cope with. Safa and Aisha – fine performances which grow in strength as the evening progresses by Humaira Iqbal and Aasiya Shah – are school friends, university friends. They are British Pakastanis ad would seem perfect examples of how to get on in Britain today. Safa is working up town in a smart office, Aisha is a teacher in East London in Newham where they both grew up.
They were liberated girls, went dancing, enjoyed life to the full although their parents led a far more traditional life. In a way they live it in a ghettod surrounded by other Pakistanis observing a far more traditional life style from which they escaped. But eventually they become women with careers. One day there is a terrorist attack and everything is thrown into chaos. Aisha returns to more traditional ways she starts to wear a head covering, while Safa is seduced by the white world of her office where she has becomestheir token Moslem, proof of how liberal her white colleagues are, struggles with conflicting ties.
It is an interesting play, although both actresses might slow down a little – the Newham patois can be hard to follow. But that could just be first night nerves and director Richard Spier keeps the action whirling round, separating, joining together, and then splitting up as their relationship comes under stress from the changes to the world in which they live.
Hussain seems to argue that one can never quite escape one’s origins no matter how one may modifiy one’s speech, adopt white middle class values, and struggle to be part of that much talked about multicultural society. The same old questions will be asked about your religion, arranged marriages and all the rest – that you can never really belong.
Safa: Humaira Iqbal.
Aisha: Aasiya Shah.
Director: Richard Spear.
Designer: Khadija Raza.
Lighting Designer: Geoff Hense.
Sound Designer: Anna Clock.
Photograph: © Alex Brenner.