English Harem

Sunday 2 November, 8.30pm

Sunday Theatre: English Harem sees actor Martine McCutcheon (Love Actually, Eastenders) as Tracy Pringle, a 25-year-old supermarket checkout girl who escapes the daily tedium of her life by substituting famous people for the dull customers that she serves. Momentarily unable to differentiate between one of her exotic fantasies and a real life shoplifter, she is dismissed for daydreaming.

English Harem was adpated to screen by Kiwi writer Anthony McCarten, from his novel of the same name. McCarten wrote and directed the feature films Via Satellite and Show Of Hands, the later premieres in New Plymouth on November 4.

Determined to find better employment, she lays siege to The Taste of Persia restaurant, until the bemused owner, Saaman ‘Sam’ Sahar (Art Malik, The Living Daylights, Holby City) offers her a job. An unlikely catch, Sam is 49 and already married with two common-law wives and four children at his comfortable home in Barnes. Attracted by Tracy’s open mind, her desire to understand Iran and Islam, and the way she hangs on his every word, he is surprisingly encouraged by his two wives.

When Tracy agrees to become wife number three and join the ‘harem’, the floodgates for society’s disapproval and prejudice open – her parents are appalled, and her ex-boyfriend, Ricky, a thuggish gravestone maker, schemes to win her back. As Sam’s reverence for his adopted country is stretched, he begins to understand the fear and envy that lie at the heart of the brutal assaults on his household.

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