ComedyDramaReviewSouth West

The Diary of a Hounslow Girl – Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol

Writer and Performer: Ambreen Razia
Director:Sophie Moniram
Reviewer: Chris Oldham

Rushing into her bedroom after the latest in a long line of personal catastrophes, 16-year-old Shahida (writer and performer Ambreen Razia), a British-Muslim girl from Hounslow, is ready to talk, determined to do her story justice so that we understand fully where and how it all went wrong.

Razia’s script is brimming with rapid teen slangand full of frank, hilarious observations about the world she’s only really starting to get to grips with. But buried beneath the social media filters is a young girl trapped between two worlds. Her mother grew up in a village in Pakistan, left to raise two young girls on her own when she arrived in the UK. While Shahida’s sister is getting married, Shahida is a constant let down, ruled by her mother’s shame, and her own attempts to respect a faith that won’t offer her the answers she needs.

She wants to see the world, to escape the confines of the town that she’s certain her friends will remain trapped in their whole lives. And when she meets a young man and falls in love, life outside the boundaries of west London seems like a very real possibility.

Designer Petra Hjortsberg’s set is a sparse teenage girls bedroom, veiled in a muted grey, while clever little touches of light take us further afield as Shahida travels back and forward through her tale.

With her comic timing, dead-pan delivery, and firm handle on her own script, Razia makes it all look so easy. But as fun as it is listening to her pontificate on everything from Pakistani weddings to Snapchat, there are moments of real depth, moments where she isn’t afraid to push herself not only as a storyteller, but an actress as well.

In association with Black Theatre Live, Razia has created an honest, striking, and tragic snapshot of teenage life struggling against cultural tradition. There are several moments during the last fifteen minutes when the show could end, but each time she pushes on with just a bit more to say. With a little streamlining, this could be an even more engrossing showcase for an extremely exciting young talent indeed.

Runs until 4 June 2016 | Image: Talula Sheppard

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