Adelaide, Adelaide Fringe 2014

Sameena Zehra – Tea With Terrorists

0 Comments 11 March 2014

Sameena Zehra – Tea With Terrorists

Reviewed by Ineke Mules

From an uncomfortable night-time encounter with a band of hapless insurgents to dodging bullet fire in her uncle’s jeep, Sameena Zehra’s life is anything but ordinary. This much is apparent in her latest one woman stand-up show Tea With Terrorists. Zehra paints a vivid picture of her life in India and uses her comedic talents to find a balance amid the two very different worlds that she calls home.

Although born in the UK, Zehra was uprooted from London at the age of eleven following her parents’ divorce. She was raised through her teenage years by her eccentric extended family in Kashmir against a backdrop of on-again off-again civil unrest. On the surface, many of Zehra’s stories are quite confronting to an audience unfamiliar with the realities of life in such a volatile region. But, Zehra skilfully sources humour from her unconventional background and for the most part does a good job at bridging the divide between East and West.

Much of Zehra’s material is peppered with a cast of colourful characters from her family home in Kashmir. There’s her wickedly formidable grandmother, who lives in a world of superstitions and has no qualms with subjecting a group of armed home invaders to a string of imaginative hexes (“May your knees fall off!”). She clashes frequently with the elderly resident cook and their exchanges are typically based around hilariously subtle albeit vicious insults. Then there’s her domineering, manners-obsessed aunt, whose extreme hospitality towards a group of terrorists knocking at the front door informed the title of the show.

Although she is billed as a stand-up, Zehra is as much a master storyteller as she is a comedian. Even after a couple of punchlines fell flat, the small audience continued listening intently to her collection of anecdotes to the point where nobody seemed to mind whether they were supposed to be laughing or not. You get the sense that there is plenty more where they came from and it’s disappointing when the sixty-minute set hastily comes to an end.

Brimming with witty and at times shocking tales of her personal experiences in extraordinary places, Zehra’s show at  Gluttony is not one to be missed.

Sameena Zehra – Tea With Terrorists, Gluttony – The Piglet, March 11 to March 15


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