Coconut, 4 Stars

Coconut
Ovalhouse
11th to 28th April 2018

“Based on writer Guleraana Mir’s real experience of interracial and intercultural relationships, Coconut will embark on a UK tour this summer. This fresh new play challenges dated Asian female stereotypes with an honest portrait of the contemporary British Asian experience. With its unremitting humour, Mir explores the impact of religion and faith – and the lack of it – in modern romance.
As her faith wanes, Rumi enjoys a glass of wine and a bacon sandwich more than a trip to the mosque. A British Pakistani woman, born and raised a Muslim, she may have hit the jackpot with Simon who is willing to convert to Islam to keep her family happy. But, as Simon begins to explore his faith, Rumi’s world begins to spin off its axis.”

Review by Mark Banfield, 4 Stars

Guleraana Mir ( Shooting Star ) play presents Rummi played by Kuran Dohil ( Gina in Response 2 Power; Friends, Football Friends) a British Pakistani woman who is anything but the typical Muslim woman. She loves drinking, eating pork and letting her hair down. Representing the dissenting view held by a new generation of British Muslim, Rummi does not define herself through her religious heritage but rather but rather her situationality  and life experience.
However when she meets Simon a white man of British heritage her identity or more to that matter her religious/ cultural  identity is bought into the fore as she tries to balance between being British and fulfilling the expectations of her community. However in doing so she sets in motion a series of events that forces her and we as the viewer to question what does it mean to be a British Muslim today.
Set out in one 90min run with several scene changes the play flows from scene to scene with only slight pauses between changes which are played out against  an exquisite composition of a Dhaka skyline with a clever interchangeable geometric unit that reveals cleverly hidden seats tables and even a fridge reminiscent of  the hexagonal pattern found in Islamic art.
The lighting employed is also of note as it cleverly deployed to depict the lurid vividness of a high st brawl but then deployed to present an enchanting lovers scene.
There is also an accompanying sound effects that at first have the clunking clumsy grinding of a machine under pressure that then develops into a discombobulated frenzy that is presumably reflective of Rummis inner being.
The writing is tight and balanced and whilst Rummis character could do with some reviewing around wording and expression ( a bit too many expletives for my liking )
her Ego played by Tibu Fortes is crisp and witty and played with precision timing.
Simon,  Rummis love interest played by Jimmy Carter The Giant Killer; Closer presents for me is a far more interesting aspect of the identity conundrum. He initially presents as a man with no defined identity but as the story unfolds we witness his struggle as he seeks to adopt and adhere to a way of living that on the one hand provides direction and a sense of belonging but on the other creates disharmony and discord not only in his relationship with Rummi but the wider society.
Coconut is a brave attempt at lifting the veil on the issues affecting British Muslims today namely identity, fulfilment, race, coercion, gender and violence.
 They are in the main quite subtle but they are there none the less and in their handling the beauty of the play is that one is left to draw ones own conclusion as opposed to being presented with a definitive response.
Running time 80 minutes
Suggested ages 14+ due to profanity and themes of violence, emotional and religious coercion
Website https://www.thethelmas.co.uk/coconut
Twitter @TheThelmas #CoconutPlay @Ovalhouse
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheThelmasUKDirector Madelaine Moore
Writer Guleraana Mir
Produced by The Thelmas and Ovalhouse Theatre
Designer Baska Wesolowska
Lighting Design Jennifer RoseRumi – Kuran Dohil

Simon – Jimmy Carter

Riz/Imam – Tibu Fortes

Tour Dates
11th-28th April Ovalhouse, London 52-54 Kennington, Oval, London, SE11 5SW

16th May ARC Stockton Arts Centre, Stockton on Tees Dovecot Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1LL

19th May Derby Theatre, Derby 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF

24th May Oldham Coliseum, Oldham Fairbottom Street, Oldham, OL1 3SW

26th May The Curve, Slough William Street, Slough, SL1 1XY

18th June Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham St. Peter’s Hill, Grantham, NG31 6PZ

19th June Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton Upon Trent Union Street, Burton Upon Trent, DE14 1EB

27th June Lincoln Drill Hall, Lincoln Freeschool Lane, Lincoln, LN2 1EY

28th June Old Library, Mansfield Leeming Street, Mansfield, NG18 1NG

29th June South Holland Centre, Spalding 23 Market Place, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 1SS

30th June Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester University of Leicester, Lancaster Road, Leicester, E1 7HA

The Thelmas
The Thelmas are a female-led theatre company focused on championing the voices of women
in theatre. They aim to disrupt traditional female narratives and make theatre that is big, bold
and emotionally resonant. They are a New Diorama Emerging Company 2017/18. Coconut is
their first touring production.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *