Tag Archives: Nyla Levy

Does my Bomb Look Big in This?

Soho Theatre

Does my Bomb Look Big in This?

Does my Bomb Look Big in This?

Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd May 2019



“provocative, creative, and a joy to watch”


It’s not easy to tell an important story, especially when everyone else wants to tell it for you.

Nyla Levy was tired of playing the “Jihadi Bride” in projects that neither knew nor cared about the experiences of such women. In Does My Bomb Look Big in This? she not only reclaims that narrative, but revamps it entirely. About five minutes into Aisha’s explanation of why her best friend Yasmin ended up in Syria, Yasmin herself storms onstage and demands to be involved. ‘This is my story,’ she complains, ‘and you’re telling it boringly.’ The cast take note, and the ninety minutes that follows is an effortlessly funny, affecting, and self-aware piece of theatre.

The friendship between the two girls is the core of this story. Halema Hussain (Aisha) and Nyla Levy (Yasmin) share a strong chemistry that makes their innate understanding of each other feel completely natural. It is this bond that facilitates the eloquent discussions of religious, racial, and political identity that permeate the play. Levy does not demonise or judge the girls for their actions; both performers invite empathy and understanding. The fact that they perform in front of their school lockers is a reminder of how out of their depth they truly are.

But the best moments are those in which both the script and the actors are aware of the fact that this is a performance. The highlight was when Actor Three (enlisted to play all the white characters – brilliantly portrayed by Eleanor Williams) breaks out of character to express her disappointment that ‘every character I play is so one dimensional’. What starts as a parody of white privilege ends with Actor Three being ordered, by Yasmin, to wear a hijab and play the role of Yasmin’s mum. This provocative decision not only forces Actor Three to confront her ignorant sense of entitlement, but forces white audience members to do the same. Once again, Levy makes us aware of how little these stories belong to us and – for all our apparent wokeness – how minimal our understanding of British Asian experience is.

When staff at the Soho Theatre announced that the house was open for this show, the ‘edgy’ title seemed to shock some of those around me. The apparent surprise that such a show exists reinforces the importance of Does My Bomb Look Big in This? – which, for the record, I wouldn’t call ‘edgy’; that would imply a lack of substance. I would call it provocative, creative, and a joy to watch.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Bettina Adela


Does my Bomb Look Big in This?

Soho Theatre until 8th June


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Chasing Bono | ★★★★ | December 2018
Laura | ★★★½ | December 2018
No Show | ★★★★ | January 2019
Garrett Millerick: Sunflower | ★★★★ | February 2019
Soft Animals | ★★★★ | February 2019
Angry Alan | ★★★★ | March 2019
Mouthpiece | ★★★ | April 2019
Tumulus | ★★★★ | April 2019
William Andrews: Willy | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Hotter | ★★★★★ | May 2019


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