The Diary of a Hounslow Girl, Belgrade Theatre B2, March 24 and 25.
Well I knew what an Essex girl was, but I had never heard of a Hounslow Girl before.
All was revealed in Ambreen Razia’s one-woman play that skilfully portrays the life of a young Muslim woman grappling with traditional values and life in 21st century Britain, where Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram exist alongside visits to the
The play opens in Shaheeda’s stark white bedroom, lit by paper lanterns, surrounding a central globe. Shaheeda, played by Nyla Levy, lives with her mother and sister in a semi in Hounslow.
Her sister is going through the rituals of a traditional Pakistani wedding: She has “a masters in being a Pakistani bride”, says Shaheeda scathingly. And it's not something that appeals to Shaheeda, whose dream is to get away from boring Hounslow and travel the world.
"I'm different," she declares.
Nyla’s performance as Shaheeda is captivating and enthusiastic. She is a confused teenager and for the next 80 minutes her monologue keeps the audience enthralled. It’s funny yet sad, revealing and poignant.
We hear about her turbulent relationships with her family and friends, and also her
experiences of first love. She is no stereotype however; she is complex and her performance draws out both her vulnerability and her strength. And gradually we start to realise what Shaheeda’s secret is.
As the play unfolds, we begin to get an insight in to the complexities of life for a Muslim girl growing up in England with the feeling that “You might be British, but you will never be English”.
Directed by Sophie Moniram, The Diary Of A Hounslow Girl is mostly set in Shaheeda’s bedroom and the B2 is the perfect, intimate venue as Shaheeda lets us into her world.
A wonderful performance, highly recommended.
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