REVIEW – Dirty Pakistani Lingerie (Touring – The Lowry, Salford)

Aizzah Fatima in Dirty Pakistani Lingerie  ©Elisse Lesser
Aizzah Fatima in Dirty Pakistani Lingerie
©Elisse Lesser

Written and performed by Aizzah Fatima, Dirty Pakistani Lingerie finally landed in Greater Manchester last week after a considerable tour around the globe. Winning several awards and the approval of theatre critics, this one woman show has been well received at the Edinburgh Fringe as well as across America, Pakistan and Turkmenistan.

Poised to the backdrop of post 9/11 America, Dirty Pakistani Lingerie explores the stories and experiences of six different Pakistani-American women. The six female characters were developed from a series of interviews that Fatima conducted with women in the New York and New Jersey area. Developed by Erica Gould, Aizzah Fatima plays the diverse range of personas with superb physicality, smoothly shifting from one to the next and juxtaposing the deeply moving with the infectiously comical. Six-year-old Zahra, who likes roti at home but just wants a sandwich at school like Emma K, shares the same stage as hilarious sixty-year-old Asma who is desperately ringing ads from the Urdu Times Matrimonial section in the hope of finding her daughter an impressive suitor.

Dirty Pakistani Lingerie probes important issues surrounding the notion of a hyphenated identity and blows apart some of the myths and preconceptions surrounding women of Pakistani descent. It’s a universal issue and not just one that is relevant to Pakistani-American women. Aizzah Fatima’s bold writing fuses with Erica Gould’s intelligent direction to open a dialogue about the struggle to assimilate Western society while preserving the culture of origin, as Fatima highlights – ‘you grow where you are planted’. All of the women we meet in this production occupy a junction between two very different cultures.

This entertaining and meaningful production has more mileage than the current running time of 65 minutes, there is room for the characters to be fleshed out even more and I would be keen to see it undergo further development.

Perhaps most poignantly, Dirty Pakistani Lingerie celebrates and presents real Muslim American women – seeking to shatter any stereotypes by giving women of South Asian descent, who are often underrepresented in theatre, a voice.

-Kristy Stott

Dirty Pakistani Lingerie continues its tour at Unity Theatre, Liverpool on 1st April 2016, The Rainhall Centre, Barnoldswick on 8th April 2016, Burnley Arts Centre on 9th April 2016 and The Bureau Centre for the Arts, Blackburn on 10th April 2016. Click on the venues to get your tickets.