Natasha Noman: Noman's Land
Employing a sardonic wit to a tale of tough life in Karachi
This article is from 2015.
Natasha Noman's one-woman play is a story of contrasts: even down to her south-east Asian-style top in an English floral print. This tale evocatively recreates her experience working as a journalist for The Friday Times in Karachi, having moved there from Manhattan. The paper's open criticism of the Taliban led to many death threats and raids, and after one such event, in an attempt to reinstate some normalcy in her life, she agrees to a Tinder date: as a lesbian in Karachi, she was dealing with a dearth of action.
The political is inextricable from the personal in this captivating tale as Noman explores the illicit underground pleasures of lesbian Tinder, speakeasys and illegal Scotch while travelling to work a different route each day to foil kidnappers, in an armoured car accompanied by a guard with a Kalashnikov resting between his knees. Meanwhile, in the office, her male colleagues struggle to respond to her as a professional, intellectual woman.
Noman employs her sardonic, dry wit to good effect; the differences between two cultures are nicely illustrated by a description of the bus services in Manhattan where the driver won't let any more people on if it’s full, whereas in Karachi they simply make do with sitting in someone's lap or on the roof. But Noman delves deeper too, going on to make the more serious and pertinent point of how lives are valued differently by the west. She compares the difference in news coverage of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists' deaths and the 2000 massacred in Nigeria by Boko Haram on the same day and how the western media obsessed over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann whereas, 'it's news in Pakistan if someone you know doesn't get kidnapped’. An enjoyable and fascinating show.
Gilded Balloon, 622 6552, until 15 Aug, 7.45pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).