This funny but poignant piece examines what it is like for young Muslim women growing up in a traditional family but also the the temptations of living in London.
Written and performed by Ambreen Razia, this sharp and reflective piece of drama told through the eyes of a teenage girl struggling to live up to her family’s expectations as well as trying to fit into London life doesn’t hold back in confronting the differences of culture and how it can have an impact your choices in life.
From the second that Razia arrives on the stage as Shaheeda, we get a sense of her anxiety and struggles, from the way in which she chooses to talk to the audience and takes everyone there into her confidence. While this means that we are immediately taken into her story, the high energy of her speech means that it can be difficult in places to follow what is happening.
However, there is no doubting the strength of Razia’s writing – which effortlessly charts the two very different sides of Shaheeda’s life that pulls her in two very different directions. There is plenty of humour to be had in the way in which she talks about her mother and cultural ancestry – not disrespectfully, but with a grudging respect, affection and occasionally frustration – including a memorable incident at one part of her sister’s wedding.
It would be fair to say that at times the writing does go a little off track at times and some of the stories can waffle a little bit, but it is still a strong and refreshing piece of work that brings to mind Bend it Like Beckham which covered a similar topic of what it takes to stand up to your family and follow your dreams.
The difference between Bend it Like Beckham and The Diary of a Hounslow Girl is that Ambreen Razia’s piece is certainly more gritty and doesn’t necessarily have a ‘happy’ ending as such – but has that reluctant acceptance about it that means perhaps she can find some inner peace and reconcile both sides of her life.
The sincere performance of Ambreen Razia is a great balance of frustration, happiness, confusion and self discovery that creates a character of great warmth and someone that the audience ultimately respects.
This production has plenty to recommend it and is perfect viewing for anyone who has ever felt a bit of an outsider and wanting to discover who they really are. Refreshing, vibrant and relevant are the three words that describe The Diary of a Hounslow Girl perfectly.
The Diary of a Hounslow Girl is the third touring production from Black Theatre Live. To find out more about the show and to book tickets visit: http://blacktheatrelive.co.uk/tours/the-diary-of-a-hounslow-girl