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Dirty Pakistani Lingerie

Erica Gould & Aizzah Fatima
The Continental, Preston

Aizzah Fatima in Dirty Pakistani Lingerie at the Continental

Having grabbed attention with such a deliberately dissident title, this one-woman play is much less of a shock, and much more of a thoughtful and thought-provoking entertainment on what makes us all the same.

It’s been constructed by a Jewish director and choreographer, Erica Gould, and a Pakistani-American writer and actor, Aizzah Fatima, which of itself has to be a gesture of cross-cultural optimism.

They have pieced together the stories of six Muslim-American women, using real-life incidents and personal testimony, into a jigsaw of a play that gradually reveals a picture of common identity and shared hopes and aspirations.

It helps that Aizzah Fatima is a first-class performer with the shape-shifting ability to be a six-year-old one moment, a 65-year-old the next, but she adds to that a hugely-expressive face and a stand-up comedian’s timing.

A little digital projection, only a few props, but some neatly-crafted sound and lighting are all that is needed to enhance a delightful performance. Oh, and a long green scarf that became all manner of costume.

Lingerie actually only plays a minor supporting role, as the preoccupation of a young bride-to-be, and there’s rather more personal laundry aired amongst all the other characters.

Theirs are the voices that are seldom heard, or even then may be misrepresented.

Inevitably, there is some stereotyping and one or two of those will be familiar to fans of TV sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, but that’s the whole point. It’s what makes us the same—a need for love, security and happiness—that is celebrated in Dirty Pakistani Lingerie, instead of lingering on what might make us different.

A capacity audience lapped up another of the Continental’s theatre treats in a small space, and this is only the start of a season that boasts a drama line-up that would grace any bigger city’s venues.

In the meantime, this play is touring several other regional venues, and everyone would do themselves a service to see it.

Reviewer: David Upton