Saturday, July 28

Spun Click for more info

Almost fifteen years after the London bombing, the questions surrounding London Muslim identity and loyalty and accountability have become almost as cliched as the answers given in response to them. On paper then, Spun seems to be stuck in the past, discussing things that most people would have been over by now. Surely it wouldn't be able to generate more than an eye roll or two? And yet, it has not been since Shades that have I enjoyed such a tight and expressive brown Muslim play.

For sure, there wasn't much new ground covered and little novelty here. The characters were plucked from the standard identikit starting selection, with their respective development following the tried and tested exclusively dual paths of spiritual identity and secular integration. As I mentioned above, a lot of this had been seen before and so those coming to Spun for novelty or a final twist would have left sorely disappointed.

But where Spun really shone was the performances themselves. Aasiya Shah's Aisha in particular was able to hold me firmly in her grasp throughout (which, considering she was probably five when the bombing happened is impressive in itself), with Humaira Iqbal portraying a solid Safa next to her. Good actors always shine in plays with a sparse number of props and sets, and the two here were bright throughout.

The third talent, in the form of the writer of the play Rabiah Hussain, was also something worth talking about. Some things jarred a little, others fell flat and in its conclusion the discussion wasn't as deep as I would have hoped fifteen years of contemplation would bring... but ultimately all those were minor flaws in a solid and clean script that didn't confuse its delivery with a need to be too clever. It was funny when it needed to be and touching when it mattered. It didn't need bells and whistles to make its point, and was better for that.

Overall then Spun was 80 minutes of straightforward, if not challenging, joy and if anything serves as a poignant recounting of what many London Muslims went through over a decade ago (and perhaps still face today). Although it doesn't really ask new questions or give new answers, it didn't need to. As a historical account of something a lot of us went through, sometimes its just as effective to tell good stories well.

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