Tribute to Bend It Like Beckham Musical at the Phoenix Theatre, May 2015 – 5th March 2016.
The original film become a British cult favourite, which inevitably fuelled my football ambitions from a very young age. I was played football daily and was obsessed with David Beckham, much like the main lead Jesminder “Jess” Bhamra. This inspired many girls to take up football but would eventually grow out of it due to its masculine and implied female homosexual connotations. Given the fact that I realised my bisexuality just four years ago, the movie could have been giving me early hints to my sexuality. A seventeen-year-old Keira Knightley might have helped as well…
Exteriorly, Bend It Like Beckham may have seemed to address women’s roles and homophobia, but deeper message reflects on cultural difference and assimilation. Using family of Punjabi Sikh Indians, with daughters Jess and “Pinky” being more open to western culture than the and their community Hounslow in west London as microcosm.
Jess meets Juliette “Jules” Paxton, a like-minded football fanatic, who encourages her to join the local women’s football, the Hounslow Harriers. The two quickly become best friends, despite the fact that both are attracted to their coach, Joe. They have to settle their differences whilst Jess’ family forbid her from playing as her sister’s traditional wedding quickly approaching, which so happens to occur on the same day as a pivotal match with football scholarship scouts from America.
The musical done an amazing job in highlighting the cultural differences and fusion through the use of an orthodox orchestra with a combination of western and eastern instruments, such as a dhol and a sitar. It’s not only the diverse orchestra but also the musical scores and seamless choreography display the harmonious blend of the cultures.
Laughter filled the theatre with light-hearted sport and cultural jokes with plenty of comedic homosexual undertones throughout the show.
As the production was in its final week and Mother’s Day was on the 6th March. I treated my mum to a delicious Thai dinner and amazing seats for the feel-good musical with a Phoenix Theatre across the road from Soho, the popular London gay scene. I seized this opportunity to finally come out to her as bisexual with a surge of confidence in one’s identity from the musical adaptation of my favourite childhood movie. (A story I will share eventually.)
It was truly an amazingly memorable day.