The Diary Of a Hounslow Girl
A funny, touching, coming of age tale of what it means to be a Hounslow Girl. A British Muslim who although attends Arabic school, Mosque and wears a hijab, also has a boyfriend, smokes weed and has fights on the top of the bus.
Nyla Levy takes over from writer and actor Ambreen Razia in this new tour of ‘The Diary of a Hounslow Girl’. Nyla is brilliant as the outspoken but instantly likeable teen who is caught between two worlds.
With the music of Justin Timberlake, and Miss Dynamite, setting up a convincing early 2000’s back drop, the story grapples with a conflict many Muslim girls are still facing today: how to stay faithful to your culture and religion whilst growing up in London.
Nyla hilariously embodies all of the characters that are not on stage with us. We really feel we know her stoned, sexy lover Aaron, her judging aunty, her soon to be married sister and her increasingly worried mother.
A stand out scene was the retelling of her sister’s wedding. With Ambreen’s expert writing, Sophie Moniram’s clever direction, and Nyla’s energy, a multi character, comedic disaster is conveyed all from the simple bedroom set, leaving the audience in stitches. However, it was Shaheeda’s fraught relationship with her mother that I found the most engaging.
“You may be British but you will never be English”, her mum desperately reminds her at various points throughout the play. We watch as her preaching, her disappointment and finally her despair, results in her Shaheeda slipping further and further from her reach and into the arms of a boy.
A particularly poignant moment is when Shaheeda is waiting for Aaron to call her back – it’s been 6 weeks – and she overhears her mother crying and praying for her next door. She is angry and unable to comfort her mum, blurting out, voice breaking, that all she ever wanted was for her mum to talk her; tell her about the first time she had her heart broken. The audience response was silence. It touched everyone, Muslim or not in the audience, who remembered how hard it was to be 16, who remembers what that first heartbreak felt like. We all saw Shaheeda in ourselves.
And that’s why ‘The Diary of a Hounslow Girl’ works so well. Despite being incredibly topical right now, the themes transcend any era and are universal. From friendship, love, heartbreak to cultural expectations and mother daughter relationships, this play has something for everyone.
The current tour is over but please let’s see it again soon.