burqoff5Growing up straddling two cultures has never been easy, but for Nadia Manzoor, an upbringing in a deeply conservative Muslim family living in North London has served as a catalyst for her moving one-woman show Burq Off! After playing sold-out shows in New York, London, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Nadia takes audiences through her life, which is equal parts comedy, tragedy, personal, public, eastern, western and young and old.

The play opens with 5-year old Nadia announcing to her parents that she wants to be an astronaut and quickly has her ambition shot down as her father proclaims, “Girls cannot be astronauts.” The play follows Nadia through puberty, her “shame-shame,” college dorm life, her first drink, first love, first burqa and first bikini as this Pakistani Muslim woman comes of age in a western world.

The play features 21 characters all played effortlessly by Nadia many of whom are instantly at odds with one another. Her father’s domineering is bellied by her mother’s naivety. Her twin brother turns into a Muslim fundamentalist while Nadia gets drunk with an Irish bartender. Her best friend flirts on the beach while Nadia shows up in a modest Burqini. No topic is off the table as Nadia accidentally bares her father’s porn stash to the Quran teacher or exposes her mother’s loving but unrealistic parenting of her and her twin.

“When people watch this show, there is almost a relief in the audience that, ‘Thank God, someone is saying this,’” says Nadia of audience reaction. “But there is also this sense of ‘Why are you doing this to your community and to your family?’” Ironically, she adds, “It’s really quite remarkable how my father and I were able to reconcile due to the run of the show, and have actually become closer than ever before.”

Burq Off! has been featured on CNN, The Daily Beast, BBC and Deepak Chopra has called the show, “A gutsy, honest, hilarious
 must-see!” We have to whole-heartedly agree.

 Burq Off! Recently played a sold out show in New York City. Check the website for future dates.


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