Pros: An extremely witty and cleverly constructed play with incredible delivery.
Cons: At times – though only a few – some of the movements and gestures seemed over-exaggerated distracting from the content.
The Diary of a Hounslow Girl is a new piece both written and performed by Ambreen Razia. Ambreen has buckets of talent and, paired with her infectious energy, I found it utterly impossible to take my eyes of her. This coming of age play is essentially a monologue of the story of Shaheeda, a 16 year old Muslim girl who is trying to balance her religion and family life with her love for exploration and her desparation to leave Hounslow.
Ambreen is an absolute showstopper; I was amazed at how every character was portrayed and developed through one actress, and how she commanded the stage entirely. She gained regular roars of laughter from everyone in the audience through her excellent comedic timing and delivery. The fact that Ambreen also wrote the play was really obvious, as every line held truth and the story was truly immersive. I cannot applaud this talented lady enough.
Paul O’Shaughnessy’s lighting was beautifully subtle but entirely effective. Several parts of Shaheeda’s bedroom set contained coloured LED lights, which acted as a stand-in for other locations during Shaheeda’s recount: these included a bus stop and the inside of a bus. Another impressive creative element was the projection which ended the play. An image of Shaheeda’s bedroom in detail and colour overlayed the plain white set and really emphasised her final realisation that she had to face up to her mistakes. The brightness and the clarity of this final projection closed the show and brought both Shaheeda as a character and the audience back into reality.
Not only was everything visually wonderful, the content of the play was very topical yet shown in a personal way. The light shone onto mother-daughter relationships was entirely relatable for any female and the way it was explored was truly heartwrenching. This narrative paired with the religious conflict Shaheeda experienced culminated to provoke some strong emotions and a greater understanding of the balance that must be maintained in the life of a young muslim teenager. From young love to drug use, crumbling friendships to a wedding, this play really does tick every box in terms of teenage life and its troubles, though not without cracking a side splitting joke every few minutes.
I was laughing throughout unstoppably, but this did not distract from the important message Ambreen set out to deliver. A wonderful venue for a wonderful play, and definitely deserving of the incredible reception it received. The Diary of a Hounslow girl is an absolute must see and I revel in the thought of what Ambreen sets out to do next, I can’t wait!
Author: Ambreen Razia
Director: Sophie Moniram
Producer: Maeve O’Neill
Booking Until: 18th June on tour.