Diary of a Hounslow Girl is a one-woman monologue-style play following a young Muslim girl, Shaheeda, who sits on a packed suitcase in her room, counting down the seconds until she can leave, killing time by telling us how she got into this position.
Hounslow Girl contains all the components necessary to have Shaheeda married off, honour-killed or radicalised and, in a refreshing move, ignores them. It instead tells an intense story of the turmoil of teenage life, taking us through her family and how they don’t understand anything, school and how it’s shit, love and how it’s magical. Sound familiar? I’d say that’s the point. Whether or not you understand her mother’s outbursts in Urdu, or fully grasp the weight of Shaheeda taking off her hijab, the play never waivers in its relatability across its ninety minutes.
A ninety-minute monologue might sound daunting, but writer/performer Ambreen Razia uses simple, but effective, techniques to keep the pace fast without becoming exhaustive. Videos recorded on Shaheeda’s camera-phone create chapters, impersonations of family members she references and well dispersed humour create smaller reprieves before the play powers on again. The most effective part is the removal of the Hijab, both in separating the story into two discernible parts, but also for the built up level of intensity attached to the act.
There are a few golden touches throughout the play. Without spoiling anything, the parallels between her lack of faith in religion and absolute trust in her boyfriend are thought-provoking and Razia’s comedic timing, in both writing and performance, are great.
Diary of a Hounslow Girl is an engaging and funny coming of age story that will have you in disbelief that an hour and a half just passed, but stay with you for some time.
The show will do more dates over Autumn.