Review: All Our Daughters, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
The United Nations estimates that worldwide 5,000 women are killed annually by a relation, believed to have brought shame upon family and community. And the number of forced marriages is countless.
The idea for All Our Daughters came when Forum Theatre talked to Asian girls in Stoke.
They wanted to encourage a true understanding of the Muslim religion. And also of the risks of forced marriage which face them, as a cultural rather than a religious issue.
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The consequence was this play, which first and foremost it is an intricate and moving drama. It forms part of a day programme aimed at informing the police, social agencies and the public.
The play is largely based upon recorded interviews with English Asian girls, but begins with a double murder in the Spain of 1928. Another incident is of a white English girl abused by her family, for forming a relationship with an Afghan boy.
The main story concerns two Asian girl cousins besotted with the romance of marriage, with Prince Charles and Lady Diana admired role models.
Marriage however lost its glamour, arriving unexpected and enforced on a holiday trip to Pakistan. The bride protested her individual right to chose, but the brother who had always been a loving playmate, turned.
His emerging honour as a man, his family's place in the community, was suddenly dependent upon obtaining obedience. He became the threatening enforcer.
The young actors involved: Charlotte Croft, Olivia Onyehara, Taj Atweel and Kesh Sharma, displayed an affecting naturalism and confusion as events they hardly understand, ominously take control.
Their performance didn't end when the lights went up. In a subsequent discussion audience members were persuaded into role play.
An elderly lady had sensible compassion and advice for the runaway daughter, an Asian man pacified the brother, telling him community outrage soon fades away.
Leading the discussion, director Sue Moffatt emphasised that freely entered arranged marriages were entirely acceptable. Enforcement was not dducation was the long-term solution; meanwhile we should all be ready to help vulnerable young girls at the crucial moment of their life.