Set in a non-descript bedroom, on the eve of a pending departure this one-act one-woman show written by Ambreen Razia introduces the audience to Shahida, a 16 year old Muslim girl growing up in Hounslow. Using only basic set, props and minimal lighting effects combined with excerpts of a recorded iphone video diary projected on to a wall, Shahidaretells her story of friendships, fights with her family, exam stress and her first love.
Nyla Levy gives a captivating performance as Shahida, engaging the audience from the outset with just the right balance of wit, street attitude and energy. Switching effortlessly between the characters in Shahida’s story, she quickly creates a whole world of people in her bedroom, with the various personalities (Shahida’s Mum, Aunty, Sister, her friends, etc) all becoming instantly recognisable from the slightest change of posture or voice.
This is a true coming of age story, told through the rambling thoughts of a 16 year old who is struggling to make sense of who she is and who she wants to be. Razia’s script achieves the remarkable balance of telling a complicated story clearly, while still allowing the confusion of her central character to come through, yet making the story instantly relatable to each audience member. Whether it is the memories of a first kiss or the fragile nature of teenage girl friendship groups that strike a chord, or the pressure of having to make up your mind on the role of religion, family ties and your place within society; there is something within Shahida’s diary recognisable to everyone.
Notably, many of the audience commented on the way out that it was so true to life, and this is where the real success of this piece lies. For a short while we were transported into Shahida’s story, powerless to help her make her decision but involved all the same. This is modern day storytelling at its best.
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