Dirty Paki Lingerie

Aizzah Fatima’s one-woman show is an exploration of modern Islamic feminism through the eyes of seven different characters, whose varied situations and outlooks on life paint a fascinating and comprehensive picture of Islamic women in modern America and Pakistan. The title of this show might make it sound a lot more scary and intense than it is: in fact, the hour feels brief, educational, and is often amusing.

Fatima flits between accents and postures with flair, making it easy for the audience to understand which character is which. She uses a sash to mark out some characters, which also becomes a hijab. Intersecting a few scenes are unspoken segments set outdoors in which, interestingly, the hijab is never worn, but sunglasses are.

We meet a Selma, who struggles with her impending marriage; she’s able to go to Harvard medical school, but she’ll soon be expected to cook three meals a day. Zahra, a six-year old, argues with her sister over a doll and asks her mother the whereabouts her father, who has been arrested without reason. At school she gets called a ‘terramist’. Asma, a sixty year-old mother makes calls responding to adverts in the newspaper, seeking a marriage for her ‘thirty-four, thirty-two’ year-old daughter. Obsessed with finding someone to marry her daughter (but not her son) as soon as possible, Asma is the one character who is resigned to the rules binding her. The rest of the characters ask thought-provoking, relevant questions about their lives as Muslim women, with Fatima making full and effective use of her many mouthpieces.

The performance never feels self-righteous, nor does it try to influence the audience in an obvious way. Realistic, fleshed-out characters ask pertinent questions that indicate double standards applied to Muslim women in Pakistan and America due to their patriarchal families and the wider society they live in. Fatima has a very light touch that ensures this one-woman show never reveals any anger; instead it is engaging and funny.

Reviews by Larry Bartleet

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The Blurb

Sex, religion, and politics collide as six Pakistani-American Muslim females air their dirty lingerie... 'Breaks down stereotypes of Muslim women in America' (Wall Street Journal).