A graduate of London’s National Centre for Circus Arts, Sadiq Ali brings humour, sensuality, and skill to this tale of boy meets boy, boy gets into the club scene and chemsex, boy faces addiction and despair: boy’s happy ending uncertain. Ali has created a brave piece of theatre. Not only in that he’s performing a semi-autobiographical piece about his (and others through a series of interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community who identify as ex-Muslim) experiences as a young, gay, ex-Muslim man but also in that he has chosen to make this a circus show.
Deserves to be seen by anyone who questions the legitimacy of love between two men
Performed on double Chinese poles by two artistes, Ali and Alexandre Duran Davins, the circus is used to punctuate the drama onstage, their interactions a chorography of physical prowess and daring. It’s wonderful to see the poles being used to flip a prayer literally on its side before being the centre of a charged and erotic interaction between the two performers. This is an intimate performance that draws the audience in. Ali has presence on stage, expertly conveying the anguish and conflict facing the character while Davins is engaging as the casual, confident object of obsession and tentative first love.
The costuming by Cleo McCabe is suitably theatrical, with Ali appearing early in a kaftan shirt with an overly long train that looks beautiful when he’s atop the Chinese pole. The cast later transition into PVC club-wear that’s striking and eye catching in motion especially under Jamie Heseltine’s fantastic lighting.
“Haram” is anything that is forbidden or proscribed by Islamic Law and this show touches upon several of those. I can’t help but feel that this show might fall into that category, yet it deserves to be seen by anyone who questions the legitimacy of love between two men. It’s also a real starting-place for a conversation about the struggle to fit in to any culture be that Islamic or the gay club scene. For a first full-length production from this artist, The Chosen Haram is an impressive start, and I can’t wait to see what Sadiq Ali does next.