Year 11 travelled back in time to the West Midlands of the early 1970s to watch a stage adaptation of Meera Syal’s semi-autobiography at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre. Set to an accompaniment of music from that era and traditional Indian singing and dancing, it conveyed both the changes in Tollington, a fictional Black Country former mining village, and in Meena herself as she grows in confidence as a British Asian teenager.
The performances of the Tollington wenches, formidable grandmother Nanima and Aunty Shaila were particularly entertaining. There were poignant moments too: Meena’s mother Daljit (played by Coronation Street's Shobna Gulati) struggling to care for her newborn son; the attacking of innocent planning officer Mr Bhatra by the local disaffected youths; the older generation recalling the bloody experiences of the 1947 partition of India and creation of Pakistan; Tollington village life transforming with the coming of the motorway.
Whether it was snatches of Black Country colloquialisms, references to ‘Top of the Pops’ or ‘Jackie’ magazine for teenagers (anyone remember agony aunts Cathy and Claire?!) or Indian food (“Cheese and peas? Together?”), it all served as a useful reminder of the story’s setting, characters and themes as we embark on our revision!