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Review: Spun, at Arcola Theatre

Strong performances in play set against the backdrop of the July 7 bomb attacks that follows friends finding their way in life after graduation

05 July, 2018 — By Julie Tomlin

Aasiya Shah and Humaira Iqbal in Spun. Photo: Alex Brenner

BEAUTIFULLY crafted, full of East End lyricism and absorbing, Spun is the story of Newham-born friends Safa and Aisah as they struggle to understand themselves and the world they inhabit.

On Khadija Raza’s minimal set, Humaira Iqbal and Aasiya Shah both give strong performances, conveying the cheek, charm and spirit of two young women who after graduation set about finding their way in life, all the while navigating the various pulls of their working-class Pakistani families.

The backdrop of Rabiah Hussain’s debut play is the bomb attacks of July 7, 2005, by which time Aisah is a teaching assistant in her old school and Safa works in marketing in Central – accents get progressively posher during her daily commute to an office where her mostly white colleagues make jokes she doesn’t understand and take her to restaurants with menus she can’t make sense of.

Thinly veiled hostility towards Muslims, police harassment and constant questions about their identity impact them both. The strength of Hussain’s narrative is its continued focus on the ways their very different responses shape each of them and the friendship they always imagined would be for life.

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