Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2022 Theatre Review: The Chosen Haram (Summerhall) ★★★★★

A dynamic exploration of faith, sexuality and addiction, Sadiq Ali’s The Chosen Haram is a beautiful, affecting piece of physical theatre. Powerful, strong and sensual work that both challenges and entertains.

Hauk Pattison and Sadiq Ali. Photo credit: Glen McCarty.

Drawing on Ali’s personal experiences, and interviews with members of the LGBTQ+ community who identify as ex-Muslim, The Chosen Haram is so much more than a “boy meets boy” story. Performed on twin Chinese Poles by Ali and Alexandre Duran Davins, the movement is often genuinely breathtaking as they communicate this celebration of love and resilience, undercut by more self-destructive behaviours.

The opening, which juxtaposes the two leads contradictory lives, is some of the clearest storytelling you will find in a wordless production. Making the absolute most of the performers’ incredible skills, the circus elements flow effortlessly into the floorwork and dance sections.

Sadiq Ali and Hauk Pattison. Photo credit: Glen McCarty.

The staging is full of surprises throughout, utilising unconventional materials and devices to complement the movement. Cleo McCabe’s stunning costumes have their own powerful narrative, while Jamie Heseltine’s lighting design provides one of the most powerful images in the piece. The soundtrack too is evocative, with Kester Hynds original compositions adding to Guy Veale’s affective sound design.   

Photo credit: M Crawford.

So much is packed into this production that you wonder if the story will be overwhelmed, yet it never is. The journey of Ali’s character in particular is so clearly communicated, and you feel every emotion with him. From the ritual of Salah to the freedom and abandon of the club scene, no moment or movement is wasted. A meaningful work, The Chosen Haram will leave you thinking about it for a long time afterwards.

By Deborah Klayman

The Chosen Haram plays at Summerhall, Edinburgh until 27th August 2022 (not 21st or 22nd).

Click here for tickets and more info.

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