Zina, Vault Festival

How do you co-exist your God and your sex drive? Men seem to have no problem with this but in Little But Fierce’s Zina there is never a conclusion for our protagonist. On one hand, The Qu’ran states it is a sin to leave your wife unsatisfied but also sin to commit anal intercourse!

Sarah Jane Dent’s Zina takes us on the story of her life; how she has always been guided by her excessive sex drive, her ability to dominate men but her yearning to be dominated and find true love. Her reluctance to settle down and become a wife has left her alone and her only solution is uncomplicated sex with well-endowed men. Dent is great as Zina- sassy but also shows vulnerability and some naivety (going to Berlin’s sex clubs dressed for the cold weather as her fellow patrons were completely naked apart from socks). Her tales of dominating her childhood friend, her affection for her parent’s friend and the true love who she lost as she was unable to commit.

This 45-minute piece is presented as a work in progress, however, I questioned elements of the production, though a monologue recordings of her conversations with men are played and it just felt like a mistrust in the character of Zina and Dent’s performance. Dent gave Zina a sauciness when the scene required it but also melancholy at she questioned her missed opportunities, like with the famous actor (I was picturing Omar Shariff which may have influenced the melancholy-I would be gutted not to bang him too) who she meets again as an adult but her heart belongs to someone else now. It could have been presented as sleazy but it was a realistic portrayal of how and why young girls are often drawn to the older, handsome and often unreliable men in their lives.

I also questioned why we didn’t hear more about Zina’s ethnicity, whilst it wasn’t crucial to the casting there are different societal, rather than religious expectations, and this might explain why Zina lived the life she did. I found the most fascinating aspects of the play about Islam and the Qu’ran. The story about the drums being played as soldiers returned home, not just so women could ensure they were ready but so they could rush back from where they shouldn’t be showing a cheeky and strangely compassionate side of a religion that isn’t often painted as such. Plays about women’s unashamed sexual activity are still a rarity and  Jessica Cornfeld and Anonymous’s script has real potential to open the minds of anyone who sees it.

Zina is on until 25 February https://vaultfestival.com/whats-on/zina/

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