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Posts Tagged ‘Waleed Akhtar’

The Bush Theatre on form again with this deeply moving two-hander about an unlikely friendship and the plight of gay asylum seekers.

Bilal is a British gay man of Pakistani heritage. He came out to his parents who disapprove but have not cut him off. Zafar is a gay Pakistani asylum seeker whose partner was murdered by his father, who threatened to do the same to him. He’s awaiting a decision on his case. Though they share their heritage and sexual orientation, the similarities end there. Bilal is open and sexually promiscuous, though yearning for a relationship. Zafar has had that, albeit with a man in an arranged marriage, but given where he’s just come from he remains discrete, secret and conservative.

When they first meet their differences are profound, but as the friendship develops they find common ground and mutual warmth. It’s a friendship, not a relationship. When Zafar’s plight becomes desperate, Bilal does everything he can to help his new friend. The play ends by bringing us back to the real world where many other cases like Zafar’s shame our society.

It’s a very well written piece that draws you in and connects you with both the characters and the issues. It’s humour prevents it becoming too earnest, without ever losing sight of the seriousness of the situation, and there isn’t a moment wasted in telling the story. Anthony Simpson-Pike’s staging has great pace and energy but allows the piece to breath, becoming deeply moving as the tale unfolds. It’s beautifully performed by Waleed Akhtar (the playwright) and Esh Alladi.

Another excellent evening of new writing at the Bush.

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