Theatre Review: The Dishonoured

A gripping thriller, tactfully mirroring Pakistan’s current state of affairs

Posted: 21.03.16

Pakistan’s underlying political complexities are explored by Aamina Ahmad in The Dishonoured, a play set in Lahore, revolving around Colonel Tariq, a celebrated war hero who is recently recruited by Pakistan’s infamous Intelligence Service. However, his first case proves to be the most challenging test of his career thus far, involving the murder of Shaida, a prostitute from Lahore’s notorious Red Light District, allegedly killed by a CIA officer. A man of considerable honour, Tariq finds himself embroiled in a painstaking moral dilemma, not so uncommon for a man of his ranking. Does he strive to ensure justice prevails for a common, but innocent young girl, or does the greater responsibility of his country take precedence? His decisions lead to angry and violent protests throughout Pakistan, further weighing down his conscience – what is the right thing to do?

What makes The Dishonoured so interesting, is that it very much mirrors the difficult situation Pakistan has found itself in today. A land dominated by the army, protecting the ‘honour’ of its country and countrymen, against the terrorist warlords wreaking havoc on their fellow people. And then comes the imposing of the Americans, who have shared a longstanding alliance with Pakistan and its war on terror. Aamina sheds some light on the delicate nature of America’s subversive strategic rhetoric that is subconsciously underlying their ‘support’ for Pakistan, in the form of military defense and supplies.

The scenes with both David Michaels who plays Lowe the American, with whom the Pakistani climate and cuisine doesn’t bode well (the audience feels hot and bothered just looking at his sweat patches and cringes at his references to a dodgy belly) and Neil D’Souza as Brigadier Chaudhry, with his commanding, booming voice, make for powerful and strong confrontations by both actors, depicting important negotiations, to sustain a delicate political relationship.

Robert Mountford does a fine job portraying the troubled soul of Colonel Tariq, with believably pained expressions fraught all over his face, coupled with his tensed body language. To make matters worse for Tariq, his wife Farah, superbly played by Goldy Noty, adds to his heavy conscience, fed up with the daily politics and unrest, wanting to leave the country and not willing to sacrifice their status for justice. One can’t help but question the definition of honour and its variant meaning to the rich and poor folk of Pakistan.

Aamina Ahmad attempts to tackle the complex intricacies of Pakistani politics, foreign influence and the ensuing moral dilemmas facing those running and safekeeping the country, as well as the common folk whose lives are directly affected by the controversial system of running a country, ridden by terrorism and thus bound by awkward foreign loyalties and gratuities.

Thrilling, edgy and dramatic, the audience accompanies Tariq on his difficult journey, where his country and his own honour is at stake – which path should he take and who should he sacrifice? His family, his countrymen, the army or the victims?

Kali Theatre Company presents The Dishonoured
Watch The Dishonoured at The Arcola Theatre from 16th March – 2nd April. Click here for tickets.

Fariha Sabir

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