Wah! Wah! Girls
Types of venues , Theatre
Until Sat Jun 23 2012
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Fri Jun 1 2012
'Wah wah', pronounced 'vah vah', is a Hindi term called out by audiences to show their appreciation. I suspect few people will feel like doing that here. Billed as a new form of British Bollywood musical, the show follows Sita (Natasha Jayetileke, alternating with Rebecca Grant), a young woman fleeing her violent brother in Leeds.
She arrives in east London to join a troupe of mujra dancing girls (an Indian dance form originating from sixteenth-century courtesans).
Keith Khan's set cleverly pinpoints the east London setting, complete with a Stratford bus stop and number 25 bus. And playwright Tanika Gupta clearly intends the show to be an affectionate tribute to Bollywood: we have forbidden love, dark secrets and a series of high-octane dance routines. They're beautifully choreographed and performed by
a talented cast, so it's a shame that the story so often veers into pantomime.
Watching Pavel the Polish plumber (Philip Brodie, with an inexplicable American accent) writhe in a Superman costume while singing about sexual preferences is just toe-curling.
Niraj Chag's music is also a let-down: the melodies are often tuneless and sometimes inaudible. And the influence of the show's director, Emma Rice – the artistic vision behind the superb Kneehigh – is barely evident. A lovely sequence featuring a puppet fox recalls Kneehigh's lyrical aesthetic, but is not enough to rescue this deeply uneven show.