Besharam, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti (2001)

SATI: You’re my sister.

JASPAL: So?

SATI: We’re the same. Same blood. Same badness. As bad as each other.

(Scene 12)

I discovered this play while browsing the basement of Housmans: a radical bookshop in Kings Cross. Set in Birmingham in the 1980s – 90s the play is a strikingly visceral depiction of a working-class family of Asian descent. Bhatti, whose background is in film and TV writing, fills each scene with specific, cultural references, dramatic dialogues and obscure props. Central to the play are two sisters: one, a young girl infatuated with a life-size cardboard cut-out of the footballer Ian Wright; the other, a tribute singer, weed addict and ex-prostitute. The play explores discrimination, traditionalism and sexuality in shocking ways, completely redefining drama for me.

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