The Funeral Director
By Iman Qureshi
English Touring Theatre and Papatango Theatre
HOME, 27 March 2019
A play for today.
This engaged, emotionally-charged drama explores the issues of homophobia in the Muslim community and Islamophobia in wider British society.
The key event occurs when a distraught young man, Tom ((Edward Stone), comes to the funeral parlour run by Ayesha (Aryana Ramkhalawon) and Zeyd (Assad Zaman). His close ‘friend’, a Muslim lad, has just died and he wants to arrange a Muslim funeral in line with his wishes. Sussing out that Tom is gay and thinking it too much of a hassle dealing with this particular death, they send him elsewhere. Later, Tom sues them for discriminating against him on the grounds of his sexuality.
The legal action comes at a fraught time for the couple, anyway, what with their marriage hitting a bumpy spell. There is an asymmetrical aspect to their affection: the love is going mainly one way. And they have no children. The return of Janey (Francesca Zoutewelle), Ayesha’s childhood friend, adds to mix, is another catalyst for change.
In the end, Ayesha concludes (the play charts her journey above all) that Allah is good and kind and so must surely accept and love gay people, since He made them that way. It is a nice, liberal sentiment but I am not sure that the Salafist scholars over in Riyadh would concur. Meanwhile there is the inconvenient fact that gay people exist and some are Muslim. (Mind, one should remember that God squad Christians have a problem with the existence of gay people too, Tim Farron being one of them.)
The Funeral Director, an engrossing, thought-provoking play of great integrity, is showing at HOME until 30 March, further details can be found here.