For Kingdom And Fatherland
nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
August 17, 2010
Shabana Rehman is very funny. She is also a bit of a celebrity, she is sure to tell us immediately, for being the first Muslim woman comedian in Norway. Now she's here to share her unbelievable stories with New York with her one-woman show, For Kingdom and Fatherland. Rehman draws the audience in with her humor and then captivates us with her openness.
Rehman is famous for another reason, too. She's a Mullah lifter! To make a long and hilarious story short, she was at a nightclub in Oslo at Mullah Krekar's book signing. According to the New York Times, Krekar is "founder of Iraq's Ansar al-Islam terrorist group." Rehman's stunt got her national attention and a bit of a career lifting important Norwegian officials (much to her mother's chagrin, who wondered why her daughter couldn't work at a nice call center). It also incited people to shoot 18 bullets through her family's restaurant's window.
For 75 minutes we get to see many different sides of Rehman. She is a gutsy, fearless performer, with a mischievous smile and flashing eyes. Humorous anecdotes give way to more personal stories—an idealized childhood that crashed with the Norwegian economy, young love that turned dangerous, and a long journey towards self discovery and acceptance. I am very wary of one-person shows that tell of childhood abuse as they tend to become more of a therapy session and less of a show. But Rehman's is different—first off, she is clearly fine: she is a survivor and she's strong. Secondly, she never pities herself when she recounts what has happened. It has made her who she is and is engrossing and eye-opening, but not a pity party. And for that Rehman and director Stephen Rosenfield deserve big kudos.