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SHARBAT @ The Blue Room gets 7/10


Sharbat
@ The Blue Room Theatre
Friday, October 25, 2019

7/10

Objectively, when imagining what immigration to a foreign land must be like it is easy to see what a difficult and sometimes gut-wrenching endeavour that must be. Add religious affiliation to that and place it within some historical context, for one example, the recently post-9/11 world, and you start to understand just how much courage it must take to start life over in a new country, away from your support network and in a new culture. Sharbat, presented by the Third Culture Kids, does a brilliant job of presenting a peek into the life of a trio of Muslim Australian sisters that leaves you with a new perspective on Muslim Australian identity, while being utterly relatable in a way that really pulls on the heartstrings.

The debut show by writer Doreshawar Khan, who is a part of the Black Swan Theatre Company’s 2019 emerging writer’s program, Sharbat is a semiautobiographical account of life as a Muslim Australian woman, aiming to and succeeding in showing that there is no one way of relating to the Muslim faith, and that Muslim women in Australia each find their own way of doing this.

Set designer Kelly Fregon opted for a simple, intimate set for the Kaos room in the Blue Room Theatre, evoking the one bedroom apartment of a newly moved-out young woman. The use of set and props were spare but highly effective in classic Blue Room style. The Kaos room was a good choice for this show, as the actor’s entrances and exits from the set was through the main door, giving the audience a glimpse of the hallway of the Blue Room Theatre’s ground floor, which really made it feel like you were in someone’s apartment in an older high-rise apartment building.

The chemistry between the actors was superb, essential for a show where the characters are all siblings. It was clear that these three have worked together for a while on Sharbat, and that they’ve poured their heart and soul into these roles. Doreshawar Khan starred as oldest sister Shaz, as well as being the show’s writer. Her portrayal of an Instagram influencer was spot-on, while she also very nicely got the oldest sibling ‘mother’ vibe going. Her performance was heartfelt and honest. An impressive feat indeed, as writing and starring in your own show can’t be an easy task – particularly when it’s your first as writer. Sabrina Hafid was very convincing in the role of Roo, middle sister and diplomat between the other two siblings. The standout performer was Mani Mae Gomes as Batty, the angry, punky youngest.

It’s important in our multicultural world to strive towards being a caring, cosmopolitan human, and a good first step towards that is by seeking to learn about and understand the lived experience of everyone that shares our local spaces and call Perth, and Australia, home. Sharbat is a beautiful glimpse into the life of three Muslim Australian women that steps beyond the stereotypes of female Muslim identity, and a moving account of the relationship between three sisters. Each individual has their own way of navigating through life with whatever set of convictions and moral code they live by, and it creeps irresistibly under your skin as they do so.

MELISSA KRUGER

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