Well hello, Miss Meena in his red Indian scarf with a gold glitzy border and his distinct Birmingham accent. Miss Meena is a drag queen who has lost his sparkle. His night club was a safe space where drag queens used to be able to hang out, dress freely and more importantly were free to be themselves. The night club is at risk of being taken over and turned it into something not so nice and where business will be carried out in a ruthless manner.
Miss Meena has always been truthful to himself, but now faces a number of challenges including protecting the family honour. Will these testing times allow him to continue to be authentic to himself?
Rifco Productions “felt the time was right to be more provocative in our subject matter and to talk about issues that are still very difficult in the South Asian Community“. The production tackles serious issues, however, part of the message is distorted by the light-heartedness of the production.
Having said that, introducing such a taboo subject whilst encouraging and enticing new audiences to the world of theatre, being light-hearted is probably a good approach. It starts with Preetho and Pinky whose first audition for a drag queen dance performance is very clumsy and clunky. A simple transformation out of their builder’s high visibility uniform into a Punjabi Salwar Kameez and a very high bun, with a sparkling pearls hairpiece entwined in it, is enough for them to be fully equipped to carry out their Bollywood groovy clumsy moves.
The sprinkling of Bollywood dancing and music continues and there is a wide range of music. Punjabi Bhangra music as you imagined popped its head up occasionally but in the main, the production is filled with numerous Bollywood Blockbuster title songs from different eras. Dola re Dola from Devdas (2002), Hawa Hawai from Miss India (1987) and Chalte Chalte from Pakezah (1972). To further add to the diversity pot there is a dusting of English songs including, I Am What I Am being one of them and as you’d expect there was a fusion of different cultured dance steps to go with it. The song itself makes the point.
With all this dancing and the various pressures does Miss Meena give up and is he able to keep the club from the vultures who desire to turn it into a business venture?
All in all, this is a great production that tackles a serious taboo subject that is not openly discussed. It is delivered in a fun and light-hearted way and there are snippets of comedy too.
Review by Shaidi Ramsurrun
From the producers of Laila – The Musical, The Deranged Marriage & Happy Birthday Sunita.
Dazzling saris, grand Bollywood lip-sync dance numbers and queues of adoring fans – for Miss Meena this is all now a distant memory. The once famous and fabulous drag queen has lost his sparkle and like his nightclub is washed up and out of date.
The punters have gone and whilst the other drag queens are strutting their high-heels elsewhere, property developers are circling like vultures waiting for Miss Meena to give up the lease to the club.
With the club on its knees, a new arrival brings a glittery rainbow of hope. But just as things are starting to look up for Miss Meena, a visitor from the past makes him question everything he ever stood for.
Rifco and Watford Palace Theatre in association with Warwick Arts Centre present
Miss Meena and the Masala Queens
WRITTEN BY Harvey Virdi
DIRECTOR Pravesh Kumar
DESIGNER Libby Watson
LIGHTING DESIGNER Mark Dymock
COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER Niraj Chag
MOVEMENT DIRECTOR AND DRAG STYLIST Andy Kumar
Kabir /Ranjeet – Ali Ariaie
Preetho – Harvey Dhadda
Miss Meena – Raj Ghatak
Shaan – Nicholas Prasad
Pinky – Vedi Roy
Munni – Jamie Zubairi