Anjali Mya Chadha
Actor, Writer, Producer
Writer, Performer & Producer - The Dateless Wonder.
Nominated for the Meyer Whitworth Award
One of the largest monetary prizes for playwriting in the UK.
An extremely well entertained audience were taken on
a whistle stop tour of weddings.... a well written and
well realised piece of comedy theatre...
This one woman show is a fine example of what Alan Bennett might have written in his series of 'Talking Heads' monologues had he been born in the body of a single twenty-something Punjabi woman...
The Humour of 'Bridesmaids' with a Punjabi twist.
Meet Jo Jo - a guest at her friend Jules’ wedding.
The same Jules who, even on her hen night, was outrageously flirting and attempting to snog Dermot O’Leary lookalikes.
Jules is marrying Dave, who himself can only be described as ‘men behaving sadly’. As far as Jo Jo is concerned, it’s not just the wedding, but the whole day that is one huge mistake.
She has turned up without a date, looking rather dishevelled after suffering an unfortunate hair-and-outfit incident and is forced to mingle with a whole host of Jules’s mad relatives.
Surely things can’t get any worse, can they?
Well, that depends on what happens when she bumps into her long-term crush.
‘THE DATELESS WONDER’ is a hilarious comedy that follows the journey of a young British-Punjabi female, single in a world of couples, togetherness and nightmare off-spring.
How is a girl to survive her first English wedding when she has only ever been to traditional Punjabi weddings?
Anjali Mya Chadha combines a comic style of delivery with storytelling, observational humour and a range of eccentric characters to guide the audience through an English wedding from her own unique standpoint.
This one woman show is a fine example of what Alan Bennett might have written in his series of Talking Heads monologues had he been born in the body of a single twenty-something Punjabi woman.
Since he wasn't born like that, the writing of this piece fell into the very capable hands of Anjali Mya Chadha, who also performs it.
It centres around the story of a young single woman, dateless, at a friend's wedding. During the course of the pre-service waiting around, the service itself and the reception, we are treated to her back-story (essentially, there's only one man she fancies, but he's never really noticed her, and all other men she's met have been a bit rubbish).
This weaves in and around the goings-on of the day, and with many observations of the differences and similarities between the 'English church wedding', she's at today with the Punjabi weddings she's always attended before. It's in these observations that the funniest moments come. Delineations of certain types are common to all weddings: the ‘SS Uncles' who unasked take it upon themselves to organise things; the fathers who think they can dance; the mothers who get more than a shade tipsy – essentially an embarrassment of embarrassing relatives abounds in all families and at all weddings, seems to be the message.
The great thing about Chadha's writing is that what could easily have fallen into the camp of some Arts Council promoted cross-cultural educative liaison project never for one moment feels like that. There's no lecturing, no heavy-handedness – it's quite clear that the only reason she brings things up are because they're, a) relevant to her story or b) lovely Shandy-esque comic digressions. Nor does her writing, in what is essentially, without giving too much away, a rom-com of a dramatic monologue mire itself in the schmaltz that could have cloyed. She deftly and comfortably treads a fine line, without ever making it seem hard. There are moments in the performance however, this evening when one got the impression that the quality of the writing was outstripping the performer.
Chadha speaks in the programme notes of being inspired by storytellers like Billy Connolly, and of how he can keep an audience spellbound with just plain words.The difference between what he does and this show tonight, is that his stories sound, coming form his mouth, as if they are being told for the first time, as if they're as surprising to him as they are to you, as if he were making it up on the spot – and it's that appearance of spontaneity that really makes a storyteller like Connolly so remarkable. Chadha, on the other, sometimes seemed like she had a script.
Which isn't to take anything away from her, because she has charm and charisma, shifted into different characters smoothly, evoked a variety of convincing accents and seemed to fit the character exactly. She is very funny, and has produced a fine, engaging and happy show. Like Bennett's Talking heads, you could imagine revisiting this on the page and still laughing as you do so.
A F Harrold.
The Oxford Daily
New comedy following the journey of a young British-Punjabi female, single in a world of couples, togetherness and nightmare offspring.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that ‘if it’s on at the Burton Taylor then it’s well worth seeing.’ This splendid one woman comedy, seamlessly directed by Lucy Taylor, showcased the writing and performing talents of the very special Anjali Mya Chadha.
An extremely well entertained audience were taken on a whistle stop tour of weddings: traditional Punjabi and ‘English Christian Church’. The conclusion of the writer/performer – that we’re all the same, basically – was spot-on, but largely incidental.
What this performance was all about was Ms. Chadha’s ability to create believable types of people – yummy mummies, Punjabi parents, British Asian teenagers, SAS uncles, middle aged women in hats, gorgeous/repellent brothers – in stereotypical wedding scenarios – church, reception, car – and make it all feel fresh and newly discovered.
Her central character was Jo Jo; a twenty something single Punjabi (by birth) English (by location) woman in search of the ideal man – Barrister Boy. Fetching up at the wedding of a (British) university friend she encounters C of E weddings for the first time and compares them to her knowledge of Punjabi celebrations. The result is a hilarious collection of characters and situations that had the audience in stitches from start to finish.
In role as her father, her mother, Hooknose, (Barrister Boy’s Bhangra Gangsta elder brother) a variety of over officious uncles (British and Punjabi), a Punjabi mystic and a Notting Hill yummy mummy – with her Satan-spawn son in tow – Ms Chadha kept up a high energy performance that showed a palpable delight in performance. Such energy is a delight in live theatre and her engagement with the audience made for an extremely successful performance.
Her admitted influences include the arch-storytelling talents of Alan Bennett, Lenny Henry and Billy Connolly. She compares favourably with all three in her ear for realistically humorous dialogue, energetic performance and an ability to make ethnic peculiarities accessible to a mainstream audience. My hearty congratulations for a well written and well realised piece of comedy theatre, and best wishes for the rest of the tour. There are rumours of a companion piece – Barrister Boy’s story: I can’t wait – it’s got Harry Potter 7 beat for anticipation in my diary!
Went to see the above last week at the Burton Taylor theatre, Oxford and was 'bowled' over as they say... We laughed so much. I couldn't believe how the time flew, Anjali was great with the delivery. Well done and come again. All the best for her future. Linda.
From: Linda Mogan
Came to see the show last Tuesday at Darlington. Really enjoyed it as did my 3 friends. Look forward to a sequel. Loved how you caught the minutiae of life!
Hi Anjali, Myself and 2 girlfriends saw your show last night at The Arts Centre in Darlington and wanted to say thanks for a very entertaining and hilarious evening. We will definitely be on the look out for any forthcoming shows. Keep up the great writing. You got the funnies down to a T. Regards Sharon
From: Sharon Jones
We saw the show at Darlington Arts Centre and very impressive it was too. The actress sustained a longish piece with great verve and impressive dramatic skill. The writing was good and recognised the need for audiences to be nursed into a familiar yet unfamiliar situation. One thing slightly threw me: the programme; nothing in it prepared one for the subject of the drama. A piece comparing and contrasting marriage in the UK and India? Some comment on the phenomenon of delayed marriage for modern women, particularly those aspiring to professional status? I look forward to the next episode!
From: Peter & Ann Wilson
Hi - saw the show last night in m'head and said hello to Anjali also, and wanted to say it was funny, accurate, and very true to life. It is actually so good to finally go see a show, play, stand up which both me, my sister - Punjabi girls can go see with our mates and all come out saying that spoke to me and what a great laugh! Cant wait for part 2.
From: Charu Malhotra
Hi Anjali, I saw "The Dateless Wonder" last Saturday in Finchley, I was on the front row. I want to congratulate you on your fabulously engaging story telling which mesmerised the audience; even my husband who usually doses off in the first 15 minutes when I take him to the theatre. I feel very proud that a fellow Indian girl is showing her background and culture to the indigenous people, in an informative, yet humourous style; to be able to laugh at one's self, and the foibles of one's culture, is a sure sign of having made it in a foreign land. Good luck in all your future work.
From: Manjit Thandi (Mrs)
I so enjoyed the show. It was well written and fantastically presented. It managed to encompass something for everyone. Very clever to create the image of a full church and reception. I can't wait for the sequel! Many congratulations!
From: Amanda Band
What an incredible show! I felt like Jo Jo was a friend of mine and that we were having a funny girlie gossip about weddings! I got quite angry with Jo Jo at one point when she decided not to swap the place names at the wedding reception. Jo Jo is made of stronger stuff than that and it was a perfect opportunity to get closer to her man! It was both an intimate and revealing evening, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to find out what happens with "barrister boy"!
I thought that the show was fantastic. Anjali was marvellous. I loved the fact that she was able to address people of many different cultures, and her social observations were spot-on. I can't wait for the next installment!
From: Sharon Reddell
Wonderful entertainment! It's great to see a show like this out in the Provinces (Kendal needs you to return SOON!!!!). Anjali,we loved the show and great to meet with you after the show. How you remember all the lines, we just don't know! Can't wait for the sequel. Well done - you gave it your heart and soul on stage and we're tipping you for a BIG career. It's about time us Indians (especially the girlies!!) showed the nation that we can hold our own and that we have a sense of humour (as well as brains!!)
From: Seema King
Anjali I listened to your interview on the Nikki Bedi show and will try and get to your show but if I can't I just wanted to say thank you for what you said about how Asian guys seem to get demonized alot in theatre productions these days. I stopped going to Asian theatre a while back because all I ever seemed to watch were plays demonizing Indian men to an almost obsessive degree. I'm not saying there are not issues to be examined but when culture suggests that dysfunction is normative it becomes demonization and in some ways, dangerous, especially in the current climate of misunderstanding that exists in society. I have a nephew who is six years old and I pity the kind of stereotypes he is going to come up against as he grows up and how he will be perceived. Hearing you say this, was so refreshing to hear. Thank you! I don't think people understand how hurtful it is to see so many mono-dimensional depictions and stereotypes endlessly, not only in theatre but in films and TV drama too. Jay Singh
I really enjoyed the show. I heard about the show as I've been to Watermans before. I went with my best mate, and I've never laughed so much before. The actress was really good, really funny. I thought going to see a 1 woman show would be boring, but I couldn't believe how hooked I was through out the show. The character reminded me of so many girls I know...I'm definately going to take my cousins to see the show and can't wait for the next chapter. About time us British Asian girls were represented. Nice one.
From: Bindya Solanki
I went with my mum to see The Dateless Wonder at The West Wing in Slough. We didn't really know what to expect of the show but have to say that we absolutely loved it. We laughed loads at the observational humour and cannot wait the next instalment of Jo Jo's life.
From: Jo Phelan
Saw the show last night in Guildford and haven't laughed so much in ages. Only sorry, not more of my friends were there to appreciate the sharp wit and accurate portrayal of life today. Cannot wait for the next instalment Thank you so much.
From: Heather Dob
Saw your show tonight (9th Feb) at Eastleigh, was very impressed and entertained at the fluent and varied presentation. As an English man with a Punjabi wife I (we in fact) found it all very apt and amusing! Amazing feat of memory too. Body language excellent, and you have such an expressive face you could use it even more to your advantage! Congratulations! Barnaby and Shelly.
From: Barnaby and Shelly