RAH is a play written and performed by Laila Latifa. Set in the bedroom of Manal, a half-Moroccan, half-British woman in her early twenties, the play bravely depicts a history of belonging. Structured as a monologue, the script explores Manal’s internal ramblings, exposing the truth about her family, her feelings of inadequacy at university, and her difficulties navigating her sex life within the context of an overtly religious family.
This new play is a real treat. Written by and starring Waleed Akhtar, it is a duologue looking at the burgeoning love story between two Pakistani men. Played by Akhtar, Bilal is a young gay Muslim man who has responded to schoolyard bullying by hitting the gym and trawling Grindr for casual hook ups. There are hints of him of him wanting more, but he pushes it down every time disappointment hits.
Smoke fills the room, we’re all sitting upright in stiff wooden pews, and in the distance a steady drip echoes off the walls. Is this part of the show or is there a leak in the roof? I wonder. Either way it’s very atmospheric.
A spotlight pierces the darkness, illuminating her. As she goes on, it feels more like a sermon. There is a holiness about the whole effect that is totally compelling.
Ever wanted to be famous? Now you can! For the small price of your dignity, you can attend Erinn Dhesi’s “How To Be An Influencer Whilst Alienating People” workshop. The hour-long lecture covers career options, how to boost engagement and, like, a super- important message about identity.
Zara lives with Alice, her best friend from uni. They work for the same law firm and party with the same friends, but their similarities largely end there. Alice is white and from a wealthy family, whereas Zara’s parents are working class, Muslim refugees from the Middle East. The class and race differences between the two women add to the increasing pressure on Zara to live up to the opposing ideals of the two cultures she inhabits, making her feel out of place in both. But how long can she keep up this balancing act before the strain becomes too much to manage?
I can’t stop smiling at the memory of the audience almost entirely composed of lesbian couples. Though not a rare thing to see a fringe theatre audience made up mainly of women, the hand holding and cuddling happening around the room indicates there’s something special about this play.
Chris Thorpe has a parasitic worm somewhere under his sternum that is as much a part of him as he is of it. It’s not something he used to really notice but since Brexit, he feels it deep within his chest. He’s now had enough of it and now would do anything to get it out of his body.
Boys, the inaugural piece by physical theatre group The PappyShow, is about exactly that. It’s an exploration of manhood, of masculinity, of what it means to be a man of colour in the UK today. It’s about mess and silliness and play and pain. It’s about the complexity of selfhood – because how can one man possibly contain all these multitudes?
It can be tough to get kids to engage with Shakespeare. Many of them see the foreign-sounding language and old-fashioned stories as irrelevant to the issues they battle as growing up today. Fortunately, Intermission Youth Theatre artistic director Darren Raymond focuses on exploring contemporary themes in Shakespeare’s work with the 16-25s that make up the theatre company and convinces them to love the Bard.
Harry receives a children’s book manuscript from an unknown writer, Heather Eames. Impressed, he wants to discuss an advance, rights and making her book the Next Big Thing, but Heather’s based outside of London, heavily pregnant and ill. It doesn’t really matter that they can’t meet in person, so they move forward with negotiating. Three books, several films and endless merchandise later, the public are desperate to meet this mysterious author. But she still refuses to meet her publisher or her fans. Harry pushes and pushes until the truth is revealed.