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Review: Combustion, at Arcola Theatre

Set in modern-day Bradford, Nona Shepphard’s must-see production follows a small group of British Muslims and their response to Islamophobia

08 June, 2017 — By Lucy Popescu

A tour de force: Combustion at the Arcola

ASIF Khan, last seen at the Arcola performing Hassan Abdulrazzak’s one-man show Love, Bombs and Apples, has turned his hand to writing – and his remarkable debut Combustion, about a small group of British Muslims and their response to Islamophobia, is a tour de force.

Set in modern-day Bradford, a group of Asian men have been imprisoned for grooming a young white girl for sex. The consequences for the girl and her family have been devastating, and tensions are running high. The English Defence League has planned a protest march.

Shaz (Beruce Khan) owns a car repair garage, works hard and is looking forward to getting married. He tries to keep out of trouble, but his feisty younger sister, Samina (Shireen Farkhoy), is intent on speaking at the counter demonstration led by the Muslim community.

Nervous about the reaction of his prospective in-laws, Shaz tries to prevent Samina from continuing her activities with the local peace organisation and becomes increasingly controlling.

In Nona Shepphard’s fast-paced production, Shaz’s two mechanics provide much of the humour. And Khan treats his sensitive subject with both humour and intelligence. His nuanced characters and clever plot twists keep us guessing to the end and the play’s dark denouement is truly shocking.

Smart and topical, Combustion is a must-see during these troubled times.

UNTIL JUNE 24
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