Lauren Booth: Accidentally Muslim
- Gareth K Vile
- 14 August 2019
Blair's sister-in-law gets political, then spiritual
With a winning charisma, and an involved autobiography of spiritual growth, Lauren Booth traces her journey from London to Palestine and a British vague agnosticism towards conversion to Islam. While the short preface establishes the importance of her conversion as the crux of the play, much of her script offers an insight into a life filled with events rather than a questioning spirituality and her actual conversion is dealt with very rapidly in a conclusion.
Booth has had a fascinating life – at least in patches. Her career as a journalist is given relatively little time (but offers no insights beyond recommending selling the rights to a marriage to Hello! Magazine), but her relationship to Tony Blair is sketched out in ironic terms. Despite being in on the birth of the New Labout project and sharing a joint with her father outside Blair's house on the night of the famous election victory, it it Blair's intervention in the Middle East that 'radicalises' her, and sets her on the path that would move her towards the human rights actions that eventually encourage her to engage with the Quran and Islamic spirituality.
She wittily admits that she had been shallow and self-absorbed in the 1990s and early 2000s, and it is clear that Islam has woken up her conscience and consciousness, but although she encounters many Muslims who express the religion's powerful generosity, compassion and wisdom, she leaves little time to discuss how it has impacted on her life. It's clear that her intention is to reject the exoticism attached to Islam, and reveal how she is an 'ordinary' person who just happens to be a Muslim, and she downplays the power of a mystical revelation. This she achieves admirably, but there is a lack of depth in her analysis of the importance of spiritual growth.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 26 Aug (not 15), 12pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).