The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs at Soho Theatre
There is no better venue for vibrant and heartwarming play The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs than the dynamic Soho Theatre. Written by Iman Qureshi, the show wraps its social messages with irony and colourful songs, making them accessible to everyone.
The story begins with Ana convincing her girlfriend, Lori, to join a lesbian choir together, in the hopes that it will help Lori accept her true identity and come out to her family. The project is led by Connie, who founded it to create a safe space for lesbians to meet, since the few bars and meeting places where they could once socialise have all shut down. The choir doesn’t boast many regular attendees, but those who do turn up begin to form a bond. Whilst working, Lori meets Dina, a woman from Qatar who feels trapped in her marriage and wants to meet lesbian women and explore her sexual identity – so Lori invites her to come along. The newbie’s presence shakes up the dynamics in the group. Meanwhile, the choir receives the news that they may have an opportunity to perform at Pride, so they begin to rehearse with greater zeal.
Tensions build due to the different outlook each choir member has on what it means to be a lesbian, as well as the different struggles that each faces. Pent-up resentments are stirred, and rather than feel united by their common experiences, they are divided by their differences. They realise that Pride itself, as an event, seems to reflect that tendency to split participants into smaller factions.
Fun, funny and upbeat, in spite of all the sensitive themes it brings up, The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs opens up conversations on topics that are not often addressed. The difficulty of establishing a social presence for the lesbian community is the main concern expressed by Qureshi, but there is also the much more alarming question of the harsh, violent treatment reserved for homosexual individuals in some parts of the world, as well as the instances of prejudice and discrimination experienced daily in one form or another by each member of the choir. Although the play’s messages aren’t always conveyed effortlessly and organically, this is an insightful production that manages to address tricky topics lightheartedly without trivialising them.
Photo: Holly Revell
The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs is at Soho Theatre from 6th May until 11th June 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.