June 29 2016
Show now on national tour mixes personal and political to great effect and has wonderful comic moments…
IRREVENT, funny, poignant and just a tad political, Asif Khan’s one man show, “Love, Bombs & Apples” rifles through some hot contemporary issues and leaves you rather tickled and entertained, not downhearted or angry.
Whether it’s the Palestinian problem, Islamophobia, Islamist radicalism, Jewish liberal guilt or even Zionism, writer Hassan Abdulrazzak (pictured bottom) and actor Asif Khan bring verve and much wit to these weighty subjects.
In doing so, the four little playlets performed consecutively and without break in a 90-minute show, test Khan as an actor and performer – but he rises admirably to the challenge, producing four distinctive characters with their own voices, tics and neuroses.
The four stories have hilarious premises – none more so than the first and original one, which inspired Prague-born, western-raised writer Abdulrazzak – and was the very beginning for “Love, Bombs & Apples”.
“It was a discussion with a friend about the best place to have sex in Palestine (when it is being bombed) and it was a funny discussion,” chuckled Abdulrazzak in a phone conversation with www.asianculturevulture.com.
In that first instalment of “Love, Bombs & Apples”, a Palestinian actor, without his own place, has to find a place to have sex with the young English activist woman he has picked up from an after show party.
In the penultimate, a Muslim Bradford teenager is seduced (and confused) both by modern technology and the extremist call to arms.
And finally, a Jewish New Yorker has to choose between his liberal Jewish girlfriend, who is a peace activist, and his staunchly pro-Israeli Zionist dad.
“There are very odd comic moments,” Abdulrazzak enthused.
And there is added spice in that Khan will sometimes address the audience very directly about his character’s plight.
“It’s a very humorous piece,” said Abdulrazzak, a former molecular biologist, who has enjoyed international success with “Baghdad Wedding” and “The Prophet” plays. “We are aware of the audience presence in the way that a stand-up can be and there are moments of interaction…”
Bradford-raised Khan talking about his role to us, added: “It is a form between stand up and theatre, you are the character, and it’s all about the character in that situation and then the politics.”
Indeed, it’s very easy to simply enjoy Khan’s performance and the characters he plays without delving into the politics at all.
“The first guy (Emad, pictured below) just wants to have sex; the second guy, Sajid (pictured above), wants to write a novel and be famous; the third guy wants to have an i-phone and belong; and the fourth guy, Isaac, wants to have peace between his father and girlfriend,” explained Khan who has featured in the award-winning, “Handbagged“.
A RADA graduate and Laurence Olivier Bursary award winner, Khan originally performed the first of the four little plays, as a third-year monologue audition for prospective casting directors and agents.
“I liked Abdulrazzak’s writing,” Khan explained. “I’d done a lot of comedy, and this was political, funny, relevant and was everything I wanted to say about the world, politics wise. We had a chat and it went from there.”
Last year, “Love Bomb & Apples” played out to packed houses for a week during the Shubbak Festival, a celebration of Middle Eastern inspired theatre at The Arcola in Hackney.
Its success prompted Khan to set up his own production outfit, AIK Productions and join with Turtle Key Arts to get “Love Bomb & Apples” a UK tour and a month long run at Arcola which has just ended – on Saturday (June 25).
“It’s a bit shorter,” revealed Khan, “during this rehearsal process we dug into the characters a bit more and added more detail.”
Khan said he’s enjoyed the producing side of the show, how to take a project from its written state to the stage, and several theatres rather just one, and pulling a team and resources together to make it happen.
“It’s still a struggle for Asian people to do the work they want to, so sometimes, you’re just going to have to do it yourself.”
He is in the process of looking to stage his first full length written play, “Combustion”, which will be about a family who run a car repair garage – and issues such as grooming and the English Defence League (EDL, a strident nationalist group).
The story will be seen through Amina, an undergraduate at the University of Bradford.
“I have a connection with a Bradford. I love it, I know the kind of characters there, and why not use it?”
It links back to what he was saying about not hearing enough voices like his own.
“’Love, Bombs & Apples‘ is written by an Iraqi with a Muslim heritage and performed by a British Muslim from a Pakistani background. It’s from our perspective and that doesn’t happen very often and we want people from the community to watch it.
“We’d like to get more Asian people to the theatre, more from the community – especially those who don’t feel theatre is for them.”
And perhaps just as pertinently, Khan added: “Being a liberal British Muslim, it doesn’t feel like my voice is being heard very often and with everything that is going on, revolving around radical Islam and British Muslims, it’s important to show different sides.”
For full listings/more info: http://www.turtlekeyarts.org.uk/news-1/64-love-bombs-apples