Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 17 April 2018

Review: Coconut at Ovalhouse

11 - 28 April, then touring.

It wasn’t written for me: Ava Davies reviews Guleraana Mir’s play about a British Pakistani woman and her family

Ava Wong Davies
Coconut at Ovalhouse. Photo: Greg Goodale.

Coconut at Ovalhouse. Photo: Greg Goodale.

I am not sure how to review this show.

I have sat here for a few days now but now, finally, I’m here at my desk and I have to file this review and I don’t know how to begin. 

On one level – it’s not my show to review

To even respond to

Not my jokes to laugh at. I’m fine with that

I’m so fucking happy to see people glowing as they see themselves (finally!) onstage.                                                                       

So on some level, it feels churlish to criticise it when the public reaction to it has been so warm and receptive because that’s actually the most important thing, surely. It’s not for me. It’s for the people who see themselves in Rumi. I’m so glad they saw themselves in her. Have I ever seen a Muslim woman take centre stage?

But then again, it’s being put onstage, it’s being presented as a piece of theatre


I have to judge it as a piece of art

To some extent

“Judge” is a terrible word because there is nothing that makes my opinion worthier or weightier than anyone else’s. I’ve been reading reviews of Coconut over the past few days and I just think – what do I possibly add? Is this even going to be helpful? Fundamentally, what is the point?

But then that feels reductive

To say something like

“I thought the staging was clunky”

Even if it’s


Even if

I did think that some of the staging obscured

Rather than uplifted

So many scene changes.

Did we need so many?

But then I have to – and I should

Examine my reaction to that

And I have to ask myself

Did I just not totally enjoy it because on some level I am programmed to prefer shows that uphold a white, middle class, male-led hegemony? 

Probably partly

Probably also because it’s not for me

But I can’t shake the feeling that

It could have been better.

Why does Rumi have an imaginary friend?

It didn’t – I didn’t – I didn’t think the script needed it

I spent so much time thinking


When I wanted to be focusing on Her Story.

Don’t get me wrong, Tibu Fortes is wonderful

All the ensemble are wonderful

Jimmy Carter is mercurial

Kuran Dohil is charismatic and expressive and I am so excited to see her flourish.

It’s directed with such care by Madelaine Moore

Written with evident passion and dexterity by Guleraana Mir

I wish I had liked it more

But I wish it had elevated the story more simply

I didn’t need the props

The set dressing

The costume changes

The story – Rumi’s story doesn’t need it.

But then again

It wasn’t written for me

I think – if I wasn’t writing For A Publication then I wouldn’t have reviewed it

The important things that should be said

Have been said

By the women who saw the play and saw themselves in Rumi.

Coconut is on until 28 April 2018 at Ovalhouse. Click here for more details. 


Ava Wong Davies is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Coconut at Ovalhouse Show Info

Directed by Madelaine Moore

Written by Guleraana Mir

Cast includes Kuran Dohil, Jimmy Carter, Tibu Fortes



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