The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs, produced by Damsel productions, is currently running at The Soho Theatre until 11th June. I went along and was totally blown away!
Everything about this production is first class, the writing, staging, lighting, sound design, casting and the performance levels. Damsel Productions have added all the ingredients to make this a 5-star production.
The Piece is set around a lesbian choir in Soho. We meet the choir’s seven fully paid-up members and choir mistress, Connie (Shuna Snow) and for the next few hours, I am totally absorbed in their world. The piece is described as a play with songs.
In a true ensemble piece, Iman Qureshi, the writer, gives space for each character to share “herstory” and her experience. These women are together through their intersectionality – they are all queer, yet this means different things for each woman. Each cast member is superb, no one pulls focus, and they work together to make the performance a success. Snow as the Choir mistress delivers a particularly spectacular performance, worthy of an Olivier if you ask me!
The piece explores what it is to be a lesbian in 2022 in London and it doesn’t hold back. We laugh, gasp, shed a tear, and feel anger and pride for the characters. There is nothing subtle about Qureshi’s writing, she is not hiding anything, positive or negative. Quereshi delivers a complex and eye-opening narrative that represents an under-represented group of society, whilst questioning why they are under-represented. The piece touches on homophobia, addiction, disability, Sharia Law, Transphobia, and bisexuality.
The show is also very funny, I haven’t belly-laughed in a theatre in a very long time, and this show is the perfect medicine for that. The production is written well in that it’s all-inclusive, whatever your sexuality you should find the piece funny. Whether you are laughing at in-jokes about the seven-year lesbian relationship where the couples wear matching North Face jackets, or you’re enjoying the cat references in the vocal warm-ups or you are just enjoying the banter between these women. The comedy translates universally and is very enjoyable to watch.
The best way to describe the piece, without giving out any spoilers, is to think about British comedy television productions such as Miranda, Motherland, Fleabag, The Vicar of Dibley, The Brittas Empire, this piece could easily convert to an on-air TV series due to the depth of character work we see and the performance levels we experience from the cast. The piece is very British and the humour we experience is very relatable, regardless of our sexuality or our gender.
Sometimes as a reviewer, I go along to a performance alone and come out wanting everyone I know to go and see the show so I can talk about it, this is one of those times! It’s clever, quirky, funny, upsetting, poignant and educational. A must-see production, do what you can to acquire a ticket, I have a feeling that the show will sell out very fast!
Review by Faye Stockley
The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs is a timely play which places community and togetherness at its very heart,
whilst exploring deeper questions about lesbian invisibility, male violence and ultimately, the desire for a
life with dignity and a sense of belonging.
Kibong Tanji Lori
Claudia Jolly Ana
Shuna Snow Connie
Lara Sawalha Dina
Kiruna Stamell Fi
Mariah Louca Brig
Fanta Barrie Ellie
Fayez Bakhsh Man
Writer Iman Qureshi
Director Hannah Hauer-King
Set and Costume Designer Anna Reid
Costume Supervisor Danielle Levy
Lighting Designer Zoe Spurr
Sound Designer & Co-Music Director Nicola T. Chang
Co-Music Director & Vocal Coach Victoria Calver
Fight Directors Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown
Casting Director Nadine Rennie CDG
Producers Kitty Wordsworth for Damsel Productions
Ameena Hamid for Soho Theatre
6th May – 11th June 2022
Times: 7.30pm (2pm matinees)