“Tour de force”, “powerful”, “captivating” and “tremendously important” are just a few of the ways audiences have described child-marriage drama AISHA. Written, directed and produced by AJ, the hard-hitting play is already drawing plaudits after only a couple of performances. Be quick to book your tickets!
Staged by AJ’s company, Ailia, the plays at a trio of London theatres this winter. It continues at current home, the Old Red Lion Theatre, until 8 December 2018, before moving on to the King’s Head Theatre (9 to 10 December) and ending at the Tristan Bates Theatre (4 to 5 January 2019).
AISHA tells the story of a 14-year-old girl whose parents force her to marry a 51-year-old man. Aisha is sold for an expensive bride-price that her parents use to better themselves while they abandon their daughter. It is an act they justify using cultural and religious traditions. Aisha’s husband is sadistic and abusive. She cannot leave the house, communicate with the outside world, or even wash herself on a regular basis. She is denied every human right. How will she cope?
The play was first seen at the Hen & Chickens Theatre in 2017. Afridiziak said of that production: “By not sugarcoating the reality of underage child brides – by presenting the topic in a clear, honest and technically strong way – the writer/director AJ has done his job,” while View From The Cheap Seats called it “engrossing”.
The piece, which is written in modern verse, has been altered since last year. At the Hen & Chickens Theatre it was staged with an ensemble cast. This year it is staged as a one-woman play. Former Young Major of Newham, Alex Jarrett, takes the title role. Her previous stage roles include Boyz and Gyals at Theatre Royal Stratford East and Hacktivists at the National Theatre. She also appeared in the London Olympics Opening Ceremony and will feature in the upcoming BBC miniseries, Les Misérables.
The Home Office estimates that between 5,000 and 8,000 young people a year are at risk of forced marriage. In 2017, almost 1,200 cases of forced marriage were reported to the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), and of these, more than 25% involved victims under the age of 18. In the 2017 report published by the Home Office and Foreign Office, which runs the FMU, the departments stress: “Forced marriage is a hidden crime, and these figures may not reflect the full scale of the abuse.”
AISHA runs from 3 to 8 December 2018 at Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4NJ, from 9 to 10 December at King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper St, London N1 1QN and from 4 to 5 January 2019 at Tristan Bates Theatre, 1A Tower St, London WC2H 9NP. Performance times and ticket prices vary by venue. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
What’s being said on Twitter?
Find out what these excited audience members thought about the show:
My theatre tip this week is to go see our former 3times @MonologueSlamUK champion @_alexjarrett in her theatre debut! #AISHAtheplay @ORLTheatre @AILIAUK “Tour De Force” don’t miss this 18yr olds performance. Moments like yesterday are why @TriForceEvents do what we do! @mntalent pic.twitter.com/2G84EycIfs
— Jimmy Akingbola (@JimmyAkingbola) December 4, 2018
Wow. I have been so deeply moved by @AILIAUK’s, #AISHAtheplay. I need to purchase a playscript! Powerful words & performance. Can you all do a live Q&A for us chaps outside of London? (pretty plz 😅). Tremendously important story. @AJAnthonyJunior @_alexjarrett #EndChildMarriage
— Dorcas Seb (@DorcasSeb) December 5, 2018
I was absolutely blown away by @_alexjarrett performance in #AISHAtheplay at the @ORLTheatre @AILIAUK. Such an intense and captivating piece, highlighting what women and children go through.
A MUST see. 🙌🏾 pic.twitter.com/B2e6tUk2vm
— Monique Springer (@StushCouture_) December 4, 2018
So glad I was able to watch AISHA in theatre last night it was such an amazing production!! @_alexjarrett’s acting was on point very effective. Congrats @AJAnthonyJunior your work is inspiring. Thank you for the tickets🙌🏾✨ pic.twitter.com/BojKNI1CwK
— Karmetaa🌻✨ (@KCNX7) December 4, 2018
I salute @AJAnthonyJunior for the most captivating , educational theatre performance I’ve ever seen. AISHA was amazing👏🏽 I’m so inspired!! I recommend y’all to get your tickets and watch Aisha now In theatre. pic.twitter.com/nbX7yj8Tm7
— JESSICA TATIANA (@jessicaatatiana) December 4, 2018