Hauk Pattison in The Chosen Haram

This sensuous, stunning show is visually arresting from the off, engaging your emotions in a whirlwind of guilt, joy, excess and regret.

The Chosen Haram is a brilliant creative debut for circus and performance artist Sadiq Ali, who has channelled his own experiences and those of (ex) Muslim LGBTQ+ people into an inventive and affecting show.

Ali and performer Hauk Pattison tell the story of two gay men meeting through a dating app: one tightly-buttoned down, faithful and sober, his day punctuated by prayer; the other louche and gregarious, bouncing from one hangover to the next.

The two collide, bringing both joyful exuberance and dangerous, destructive addiction.

The dance-circus piece primarily uses two Chinese poles, with both Ali and Pattison extremely accomplished and confident on stage. They perform independently – Pattison shakily getting dressed half-way up the pole is both characterful and technically impressive; Ali sings, holding himself between the two poles with his legs alone – and together, rapidly scaling and dropping down the poles, wrapping around the set and around each other.

Plastic and film, together with fans and some clever lighting – particularly a virtual prayer mat – are also used to transcend the relatively small sparse stage.

Their courtship is at points both charming and riotously funny, with especially Pattison’s facial expressions fully but silently bringing his character to life. It is also honestly, brutally, physical. The latter parts of the show as experimentation turns to excess are bleaker, emotionally wrenching the audience despite their only very brief association with the characters.

It’s a visceral piece of theatre, and one of the hidden highlights of this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival.