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It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions

by on 19 August 2022

Identity Confronted

It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions

by Laila Sajir

Two Thousand and One Theatre Company at the Etcetera Theatre until 18th August

Review by Heather Moulson

Set in the morning after the night before, a scene uncomfortably familiar, this one woman play looked promising.  The self-loathing and overthinking cloud hung over Manal as we opened up to an interesting and scattered set.  She shared her thoughts with a lover from a directionless relationship, while preparing Iftar for her strict Muslim family who were due to visit.  Torn between getting her lover out the flat while listing his negative points, and preparing the evening meal to end the Ramadan fast for the day, her frustration was palpable.

A one woman play by performed by the author Laila Sajir, It’s Only Funny with Stage Directions moved along at a good pace.  An optimistic start as Manal, played with conviction by Sajir, made good use of every prop, including slicing an onion. (Uncomfortable viewing!)  Strong writing and genuine poignancy was in abundance, but significant and humorous points went from subdued to inaudible.  Projection was badly needed.

However, Sajir did subsequently relax into the demanding role.  It was then that she began to excel in her identity and stage presence but the build-up was lost.  Forthrightness was lacking. However, I appreciated her confronting the audience with statements and eye contact.  I admire performers who do this, and the intimacy of the venue made the interaction believable.

Camden Fringe 2022

Laila Sajir was sad, funny, empathetic, and convincing, as she recalled school bullies and her mixed-race upbringing.  Her real poverty was subdued by the rich and trendy of North London playing at being poor.  What wasn’t there to be frustrated about?!   “Imagine going through all that colonisation for your granddaughter to date someone called Jack!”was a particularly strong line that stood out.

The ending could have been on a more definite note, but overall it was a good thirty minutes of realism and drama.  The lighting was sensitive, the set well thought out, and there was intelligent direction by Amelia Kingsnorth.  These are all names to look out for.

Heather Moulson, August 2022

Photography by Isha Shah

From → Camden Fringe, Drama

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