Passing

Nerida Dickinson

Direct and honest exploration of personal identity, cultural conflicts and responsibility for calling out bigotry.
Passing

Sara is a young Australian. On a morning train ride, without her earphones, she overhears casual bigoted anti-Muslim, anti-African sentiments as other commuters chat to each other. While she may pass as just another Aussie university student, she wonders if they would speak so freely if they knew her ethnic and family religious background.

Introducing her family with portraits of her white Australian mother, Algerian father, Algerian step-mother Fatima, a conservative Muslim, and her younger half-sister, we step into Sara’s world. While considering her own (lack of) African identity and religious identity, she recognises how closely religious festivals and customs are interwoven with her family life. Examining her status as a Muslim, she plays a round of Muslim bingo, finding that she falls between the cracks. Further emphasising her removal from Islam and Algerian customs, she describes her sometimes difficult relationship with her girlfriend, Kylie. As a bisexual woman, Sara tries to maintain her relationship and support Kylie in her different interests and enthusiasms, while also respecting her family’s views and values. A trip to Algeria, meeting her grandmother and bonding over making bread together, brings realisation of the importance of retaining her culture and maintaining her core values of family love and respect, in choosing to create her own uniquely Australian self-identity.

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Delivered in a direct and honest manner, Sahra Hamadi is engaging while sharing her character’s dilemmas. The story of self-discovery, familiar to most young people, includes cultural twists and turns of diverging from two separate mainstream communities. Her rapid moves between characters with simple props and lighting switches, illustrating her unease with being treated as a token object, are clear and clever.

Anguishing over her rights to claim membership of the separate cultures in her life, evaluating her responsibilities to educate and amend encountered bigotry, Hamadi presents both a current situation and resolution. Self-acceptance while living within and between two distinct cultures, passing either way, Hamadi demonstrates a personal response to share through society for increased harmony and acceptance. Gentle interaction with the audience, sharing homemade bread as she learned from her grandmother, is a nod to the elements that mark a Fringe show, without causing embarrassment or discomfort. Thought provoking, she shares her experiences and development in an accessible manner, a tale of personal growth.

3 ½ stars out of 5

Passing
Presented by Improve Silence
Director Angela Dolan
Performed by Sahra Hamadi
The Shambles, Fringe Central, Perth Cultural Centre
1-3 February 2018
Part of FringeWorld 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.

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