Miss Meena and the Masala Queens: Review by Stephen Vowles

Harvey Virdi’s Miss Meena & the Masala Queens is a rather good musical which opens the door via the use of cultural references to a section of Indian society that to some remains a mystery. The soap opera quality to this piece has a cast that are loving it especially Vedi Roy as Pinky and Harvey Dhadda as Preetho who work as council workers during the day and dream of becoming drag stars at night. After securing an audition at Miss Meena’s cabaret night – the owner beautifully played by Raj Ghatak – their journey begins and soon the novices become the stars. Set in the Indian quarter of Birmingham the play tackles issues that are apparent in most societies, self sacrifice, the need for a safe place, a safe haven to get away from indifference, bigotry and homophobia but where family loyalty and observing rituals may mean there is a price to pay for being who you want to be. This of course leads to emotional consequences that are beautifully explored in this at times predictable but still hugely enjoyable musical. The use of Indian dance to tell the story is also stunning to watch. Nicholas Prasad as Shaan a young gay man coming to terms with his sexuality and earning to become a drag star makes for a good back story where blackmail, hypocrisy, double standards and skullduggery form the plot implemented by a devious Jamie Zubairi as Munni. Ali Ariaie as Kabir/Ranjett who plays Miss Meena’s brother who has to tackle his own inner demons relating to family and the death of his father brings a serious tone to the proceedings. This is a rather kitsch, pot boiler of a show and confirms that good will always triumph over evil. Pure Bollywood on stage.


Runs to the 27th May at Greenwich Theatre. Box office 020 8858 7755

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