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A play that cleverly unveils a human story behind the headlines comes to Tara Arts and Soho Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WRITTEN by Nyla Levy, directed by Mingyu Lin and presented by Tamasha and Nyla Levy, Does My Bomb Look Big in This? runs at Tara Arts from April 30 to May 4 and Soho Theatre from May 21 to June 8, 2019.

Yasmin Sheikh feels torn in the city she used to call home, but Aisha sees a different London to her best friend. When Yasmin suddenly disappears to Syria, Aisha embarks on a mission to uncover the truth and decide whether there is any hope in Yasmin’s new-found world.

With fierce wit and disarming honesty, Does My Bomb Look Big in This? cleverly unveils a human story behind the headlines and questions how close or far we are from multicultural harmony. It was first conceived in 2016 by playwright and actor Nyla Levy (who also performs in the cast), after continually being cast in roles as a ‘jihadi bride’ or ‘terrorist girlfriend’ and generally dissatisfied with the narrative being told.

During the development of the play, Levy ran research workshops with schoolchildren and interviewed Muslim community leaders as well as terrorism defence solicitor Tasnime Akunjee (who describes her play as ‘deeply moving’). The result voices the complexities of the choices made by disaffected youth, their vulnerability, and how the decisions made can change lives, communities and countries forever.

Of mixed race, Pakistani and Canadian with Muslim and Jewish heritage, and born and bred in London, Nyla Levy has always gravitated towards stories that explore experiences related to identity, culture and race. Her playwriting began in verbatim, with her first play Different is Dangerous (Amnesty International Freedom of Expression longlist nominee), followed by Normal with a bit of Oomph!. As an actor, her credits include Child of The Divide for Tamasha.

Fin Kennedy, Artistic Director, Tamasha said: “In examining what might cause a young British woman to leave her home and join the conflict in Syria, Does My Bomb Look Big In This? puts centre-stage profound questions about identity, loyalty and post-colonial legacy, which are more relevant than ever at this time of national soul-searching.

“The play is a work of fiction inspired by real events, rather than a docudrama. Its timing may look like a rapid-response to the Shamima Begum story but in fact it has been in development for several years. This is an indication of Nyla’s talent as a dramatist; like all great playwrights she has anticipated the importance of a single issue to our national debate.

“That she has been so astute with her very first play is thrilling, and Tamasha is proud to champion Nyla as part of a new generation of British theatremakers who can take on the big issues of our time with skill, empathy, even-handedness and humour.”

Tickets (Tara Arts): £17.50, £13.50 concessions, £10 for 16 -25. To book, call 020 8333 4457 or visit www.tara-arts.com/.

Times (Tara Arts): 7.30pm, plus May 2 and 4 at 2.30pm.

Tickets (Soho Theatre): £13 – £18. To book, call 020 7478 0100 or visit sohotheatre.com/.

Times (Soho Theatre): 7.15pm, plus May 25 and June 1 and 8 at 2.15pm.

Does My Bomb Look Big In This? will also visit South Street Arts Centre, Reading (May 16) and Luton Libraries (June 11).