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Saturday, 2 March 2019

REVIEW: Smack That (a conversation) at the Ovalhouse

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. As you enter the Ovalhouse theatre for Smack That (a conversation), created and choreographed by Rhiannon Faith, you are entering a party. Helium-filled balloons are hanging from purple chairs, which are placed into a large square for the audience to sit on, we are offered drinks, candy and popcorn, and six performers in grey wigs and short dresses are inviting us to make ourselves comfortable. They even give us nametags. We are all called Bev, with a little something extra as well (I was “New shirt Bev”, as I mentioned I was wearing a new shirt). The gentleness and friendliness of the grey Bevs set the stage for a warm and solidary environment where you leave shame and any sense of ridicule at the door. This is so refreshing. 

This is pretty much an immersive show, with the lighting design by Azusa Ono including the audience into the show and with games being played – never have I ever, pass the parcel. Between scenes, we are invited to share with our neighbour, just say hi, participate and dance. At the end of the show, I felt a strange connection to everyone in the room, like everyone was more open than when they had entered. 

Friday, 13 April 2018

REVIEW: Coconut at the Ovalhouse

“Coconut” is a brand-new show about Rumi, a British-Pakistani young woman who becomes torn between pleasing her Muslim family and pursuing her love story with a white guy. It is produced by The Thelmas, an intersectional, female led and a New Diorama Theatre Emerging Company. This show, which is refreshing and catches you off guard is not to be missed.

Meet Rumi (played by Kuran Dohil): she is a twenty-something British-Pakistani who does admin work but is also a food blogger. Although she was raised a Muslim, she eats bacon and drinks alcohol. Some people call her a Coconut, because she’s brown on the outside and white on the inside! 

She also has an imaginary friend, Riz (Tibu Fortes), who she shares her frustrations about life with, especially when it comes to men. After going to a Halal Speed Dating event, she meets Simon (Jimmy Carter) in a bar. The two fall for each other, and start spending more and more time together, away from Rumi’s family’s eyes. After a few months, she makes it clear to Simon that if they are to be together and get married, he needs to convert to Islam. Simon, whose mother has just died after a long illness, is ready for a new start in his life and accepts the conversion. Soon enough, Simon develops a taste for his new religion and, wanting to practice it correctly, starts worrying Rumi with the extent of his enthusiasm. 
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