AILIA theatre company
Old Red Lion
A seventeen-year-old girl lies on her bed, distressed. Speaking directly to the audience, she describes being horrifically raped by a man she does not name.
This is the startling opening to Aisha, the seventy-five-minute monologue of a child bride.
At the age of fourteen, she was forcibly married to a much older man who paid a bride price to her parents then confined her to his home and constantly sexually abused her.
Alex Jarrett gives a measured performance as Aisha that is convincing even in those moments of extreme emotion when she is reduced to tears.
She tells us of her failed attempts to escape, the unsuccessful attempts to kill herself and her miscarriages. She wonders if the miscarriages are a result of her husband also being her uncle, quickly adding in case someone should think that “incest is just a black thing… just look at the Royal Family.”
Mostly, she speaks in the rhymes and rhythm of poetry that can feel like naturalistic speech. Yet there are lines whose expression puzzled and distracted. Some tended to make what she described less convincing. For instance, when she keeps vomiting into the sink, she says through the stomach pain, “the ejecting of matter has become a daily habit.”
There is also a rather narrow focus on the horrors of captivity and sexual assault to the exclusion of almost everything else. We know very little about any other aspect of her history, her family, her brutal husband, or even the unnamed geographic location of the story. All these things might help us better understand, better oppose a terrible practice. Child marriages are not simply sexual abuse.
Nevertheless, the show is one imagined victim’s thoughtful if harrowing account of an appalling situation that affects many young girls across the world.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna