The topic of religion will forever cause a mass of debate worldwide, however there’s been a noticeable negative emphasis placed on the religion of Islam, due to the images presented to us via news rooms, newspapers and video images. Shattering preconceptions of a typical girl who follows the faith, Ambreen Razia‘s Diary of a Hounslow Girl is a breath of fresh air to the narrative constantly fed to us on a daily basis.
Situated in the heart of Hounslow our gragarious 16 year old protagonist wishes for nothing more than to escape the mediocrity of her everyday sorroundings and to explore what the world around her has to offer. From the get go, Ambreen reels the audience into this fiery young protagonist’s world, her mind, her way of thinking by guiding the evening with a series of anecdotes. Ambreen’s words stack up to build a tower of laughs, immediately drawing the audience on side. This is due to Ambreen’s meticulous eye to detail, her ability to craft a monologue true to the experience of many young females today, no matter their background and this is a triumph. Human experiences of heartbreak, questioning identity and passing exams become the true protagonists. At 16, we think we have all the answers and nobody can tell us otherwise, but Ambreen’s monologue doesn’t at all offer any answers or any solutions to issues… rather it holds up a mirror to societal ideals and presents a relevant yet ground breaking piece of playwriting that is exciting. There’s a vulnerability that endearingly carves out a relatable figure.
Petra Hjortsberg‘s minimalistic set consisting of a door downstage centre and a bed stage left encouragingly allows for Razia to tell the audience her story without stealing the limelight. Friends and family members make their appearances through the vehicle of Ambreen’s anecdotes, providing sources of humour, judgement, security and aspiration. Sophie Moniram directs a no holds barred observation on the weight of expectation placed on young females living in the UK, from the taking of GCSEs to the lonliness and isolation felt due to a constant tussle of cutural expectations.
The only true criticism of the piece is this implication of Ambreen’s protagonist wishing to escape her current situation. This element of the production isn’t resilient enough and leaves me although rooting for her wanting to feel that sense of urgency which. 3.5/5.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Diary of a Hounslow Girl was shown at the Ovalhouse Theatre from Wednesday 4th until Friday 6th May. The production is currently on tour. For more information, visit here…