The Prophet Mohammed was said to favour the colour green, and a passage in the Quran says that in paradise, people ” will wear green garments of silk”. Which is why Aizzah Fatima’s one woman monologue features green fabric, untied at the start to represent liberation from her old self, to weaving it symbolically across the stage, to being worn by her as a hijab or sash.
It’s a hugely effective staging choice, vivid against the simple backdrop. Fatima’s performance deftly veers from high, ribald comedy to moving pathos, thanks to the pacy direction and movement choreography from Erica Gould, and Kevin Brouder’s gorgeous projection and sound design.
Fatima asks wider questions of globalisation, multi-culturalism, perception and feminist choices, through six disparate female Muslim characters. The most hilarious is Asma, the pushy 60-something mother who effectively thrusts her daughter to men on dating sites by calling them up. She would be grotesque, with her hoarse voice and gruff manner, were her intentions not so good. The volte face when the men get too keen is beautifully portrayed.
Elsewhere, there is a heart-rending poignancy, as in the portrayal of Hiba, meeting her daughter in a cafe to inform her she is divorcing her father. Fatima is more than mere mimic- she seems to get into the mind-set and physicality of each, whether playing the six year old child Zahra, who simply won’t eat her dinner and wants to watch Dora The Explorer, baffled by her mother’s tears when her father is arrested on terrorism charges; or the disappointed Selma, who wants to be a sexual being on her own terms without being judged for it- particularly by other women.
The lightness of touch is what draws out the humanity of each message- when Fatima’s old-school male Pakistanis suggest ”you grow where you’re planted”, the hurt at ingrained sexism of ”a woman’s place” is no less stinging.
Nothing green about these women- a pleasure to spend time with in a smart, wonderfully-judged show, with a positive message at the core.
Dirty Pakistani Lingerie is at Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling on March 8th, and continues its tour across Britain until April 10th.
See the trailer here:
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