Thursday, 14 December 2017
Miss Meena and the Masala Queens | Theatre Royal, Windsor | Tuesday, May 30
PRAVESH Kumar, Harvey Virdi and the team at Rifco Arts took us on a fabulous, moving and highly enjoyable sojourn into the realm of “gaysian” Britain and British Asian drag, ruminating on the trials and tribulations of following your dreams — even if they may conflict with family pressures.
In a semi-derelict Birmingham drag club, where the name “Miss Meena’s” appears in flickering lights with the odd blown bulb or three, the club’s eponymous owner lives in the shadows, lamenting the death of his partner Jack and haunted by the memories of his glorious past.
The scene is made tragi-comic by sassy assistant Munni and wannabe performing drag double-act, Pinky and Preetho, who constantly put up with Munni’s bitchy put-downs.
Youngster Shaan seems to be forever waiting for a bus just outside the club, on the cusp of entering this world but daunted — until the queens wrap their sari-adorned frames around him and draw him in.
The sheer effervescent energy and joy of Pinky and Preetho, the gusto with which Munni donned a pair of strapping high heels and attitude to match, and Miss Meena’s delicate perfectionism in demonstrating a ladylike strut were wonderful.
And when they showed the ropes to Shaan it was a proper sister act with a devoted cast, breaking down the perfect stance of hips and thighs.
The wardrobe was to die for and every character dressed just so, with marvellous Carmen Miranda-style outfits when Pinky and Preetho carried out Hawa Hawaii, tiny dresses, absolutely divine seagreen sequins and matching dos, towering heels (of course) and even a fetching dressing gown or two.
While the show had its darker moments, they were brought to us sensitively throughout — fleshing out the backgrounds of the characters and exploring the fallout when Miss Meena had fled a future of arranged marriages while his brother had trodden a more conventional path.
On the upbeat side, in a show liberally sprinkled with glitter, glamour and the odd bit of innuendo and bra padding, the overall effect was glorious and enhanced with lights and music.
The overwhelming message was the vital importance of staying true to yourself (as evidenced in their rendition of I Am What I Am, from La Cage aux Folles), and the passion and happiness that results.
01 June 2017
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