Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Reviewed – 7th September 2017
“Ishq is intense love. It’s love that is beyond words. It isn’t just romantic love, Ishq is for everyone” – Suhaee Abro
Ishq translates as love. Ishq translates as passion. As the first Anglo Punjabi Musical, Ishq translates as a celebration between different cultures and the styles of music and dance that connect them.
The production is particularly significant as it marks 70 years of Pakistan’s independence. The story, the legend of Heer Ranjha, is compared to Shakespeare’s great love story ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Ishq tells the tale of young people from different social classes falling in love and subsequently causing upset within their families.
Personally, I was drawn into the importance of culture from the very beginning of the show. There are bright, bold colours everywhere – the costumes are beautiful and really reflect a sense identity as well as pride. The choreography, masterminded by Owen Smith and Suhaee Abro, is then married into this and the outcome is one of joy and celebration.
The set backdrop is stunning as it uses a brushstroke motion to literally paint a picture of a scene in the background. It is detail like this that keeps the audience transfixed by the scenery – where will the next scene take us?
Choreographer Suhaee gave us an insight into what the show has meant to her and what she hopes the audience can take away from it.
Suhaee, given that you have worked in many different areas such as dance, theatre and film, what kind of role has Ishq played in your career?
Dance wise, I am the co choreographer alongside Owen Smith. It has been very interesting to combine the Eastern and Western techniques and I believe that this is what helps us to grow as artists. I am more of a soloist. I usually prefer working in a more intimate setting as I enjoy looking at the little details, so I have never choreographed so many dancers at once but it has been amazing.
The production is a collaboration between British and Pakistani artists, what would you like your audience (especially younger people) to take away from this celebration of diversity?
I think it will be very inspiring for a lot of people to see the mix of South Asian and Western culture.
Also the story features the character Heer, a woman standing up for the representation of other women, they shouldn’t just be seen as a married woman or someone’s sister or daughter, they are human beings with the right to love and do as they wish. They should not be forced to marry someone.
What does Ishq mean to you?
Ishq is intense love. It’s love that is beyond words. It isn’t just romantic love, Ishq is for everyone. You can be in love with your soul, you can be in love with the universe or your child. It’s for everyone. Ishq has been special and challenging from the beginning, I think it’s a beautiful fusion of English and Punjabi culture. We are wearing our costumes, representing our culture but we are speaking in English and I’ve never seen a production quite like that before.
Review and Suhaee Abro interview
by Stephanie Legg
Production Photography by Lidia Crisafulli
was at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre