Theatre: Make Me A Houri Review

 
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The role women play in Islam is complex and I’m no authority to write anything on the matter being neither Muslim or a women. I was, however, raised Muslim and had become aware of an imbalance of the sexes early in my experience. Within communities, Muslim women are often praised for their beauty and virtue but are rebuked for acknowledging their womanhood. 

Make Me A Houri is an exciting play by Emina Ashman that explores the collision of these forces that compound on young Muslim women in Australia. Here, it’s sometimes even harder on Muslim women as our culture and media have demands that are often at odds with being a good Muslim.

The characters Asmara and Safia, played by Emina Ashman and Nisha Joseph, talk of their faith in conflict with their bodies, desires and friendships. The dialogue is poetic and performed with a quiet power from both leads. The exploration of character is not the play’s main focus, though the pair do play off each other well and a great deal of the humour comes from when they are simply chatting like old friends. The focus here is the Islamic experience with its all its difficulty, hypocrisy and even its joy and reverence. 

This slow-paced and provocative play weighs all of these extreme forces and exposes them by starting our players in the afterlife. This framing gives our players a special perspective, a way to ponder their faith amidst the reality of their passing.

The subject matter is simultaneously light and heavy, the lofty concepts of religion death and loss are always grounded by a strong sense of place and humour. 


The subject matter is simultaneously light and heavy, the lofty concepts of religion death and loss are always grounded by a strong sense of place and humour. 

Being Muslim means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, this play shares the lesser known experiences by those within the community who may not often have a voice… it is insightful and beautiful. 

While there may have been a case of opening night jitters when I viewed the show, the production exudes enough sincerity and the actors enough poise to overlook any minor faults.  The sound and set design are on theme and provide the actors to mix up the dialogue with visual gags and aural set pieces. 

Make Me A Houri is an important play that you should see if you can. It’s also a great excuse to go to the great La Mama Courthouse and see a show that’s a shining example of why La Mama exists, to support new talent and expose audiences to ideas on the fringe.  

Make Me A Houri is playing at La Mama Courthouse until the 4th of August. For more information including show times and tickets, click here.