“Sex. It is such a problem, isn’t it?”
There can’t be many better opening lines for a play that purports to be about politics. But Love Bombs and Apples describes itself as funny, poignant and political theatre. And serves up an hour of exactly that.
Asif Khan introduces us to three different characters, an actor living in Palestine puzzling over how he might have sex, an aspiring writer from Pakistan, now living in London and an aspiring jihadi warrior, celebrating the opening of the new Apple store in the Westfield centre in Bradford.
The actor tells us he has three options when it comes to sex. Visiting a prostitute, agreeing to an arranged marriage or engineering a chance encounter with one of the hundreds of NGO workers piling into Ramallah. We hear about his courtship of privileged Liz (in her surely Chanel dress) in an entertaining discourse on the trials and tribulations of a young man living in a traditional religious society.
Written by Hassan Abdulrazzak, this monologue explores the complex relationship between the Arab World and the West and the preconceptions and misconceptions that muddy the waters. “Why can’t human beings just get along?” asks Liz of the Palestinian actor.
Khan serves up a lovely performance as the three characters. He’s opportunistic as the actor, earnest as the wannabe writer and full of yearning to fight the good fight (as he sees it) as the wannabe warrior from Bradford. His performance is pacy, nicely choreographed and controlled. Careful direction from Roasamunde Hutt makes good use of the space and the soundtrack (James Hesford) is smartly judged. I loved the apposite use of the Apple ringtone in the music bracketing the third story.
Abdulrazzak’s script is sharp and funny with some lovely poetic moments. But even this polished performance can’t quite disguise the fact that this show is three separate monologues knitted together by a consistent connection with the Middle East. There’s nothing wrong with this as an approach but it made for a less satisfying narrative overall.