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Review: Dugsi Dayz (Royal Court)

Review by Daz Gale

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

The inaugural season from Royal Court’s new Artistic Director David Byrne has kicked off with an award-winning play as Sabrina Ali’s Dugsi Dayz makes itself at home at the theatre’s more intimate Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. A collaboration with Side eYe Productions, this marks the first of Royal Court’s initiative to forge creative partnerships with organisations throughout the country in a bid to develop new writing and enable them to reach a wider audience. With a reputation from its previous run and it being the first of this new season and philosophy for the Royal Court, it feels like there is a weight of expectation on Dugsi Dayz. Could it deliver and kick the season off on a high?



Inspired by the classic movie The Breakfast Club, Dugsi Dayz is set in a Mosque on a Saturday where four British-Somali girls find themselves stuck in detention. With none of them wanting to reveal why they are there and a deal of tension in their differing personalities, histories, and relationships, interesting dynamics are forged and changed throughout the singular act story. Its season at the Royal Court follows a run at the Edinburgh Fringe and a sold-out national tour.

 

Sabrina Ali’s narrative allows for the action to take time to breathe, having immediately thrust you into the situation. The first half of the play focuses on the girl's arrivals, differing personalities, and making clear each of their traits and relationships with each other. While the four are all keeping their cards close to their chest, the audience is allowed to understand the basics of each of them while retaining a level of intrigue as the reason for their punishment remains unclear. As the show heads towards its climax, the narrative changes somewhat, focusing on each of the girls telling Somali folktales in a bid to scare each other, to varying effect,



In her writing, Sabrina Ali creates rich characters and a situation that allows the richness and varying nature of their personalities to flourish, She expertly weaves comedy and culture together to create a joyous and captivating tale that plays on a classic story and brings something fresh to the mix, The comparisons of the folktales to the situations the girls find themselves in and the ultimate payoff when it is revealed why each of them is there creates a show that doesn’t put a foot wrong, satisfying from start to finish.

 

Sabrina Ali also takes on the role of Munira, joined by Hadsan Mohamud as Hani, Faduma Issa as Yasmin, and Susu Ahmed as Salma. The four complement each other perfectly, making it impossible to single any out as the standout performance. The standard is set high from Sabrina and Hadsan’s first interaction and never falters as Faduma and Susu join them. From Susu’s rule-abiding nature bringing comedy as the other girls attempt to lead her astray to Faduma’s always brilliant turn as glamorous and social media-obsessed Yasmin, Dugsi Dayz truly is an ensemble piece and one that is elevated from the four girls' ability to let each other have their moment in the spotlight before coming together collectively once more.



Poppy Clifford and Warda Mohamed’s direction takes the static setting of detention in the Mosque and has fun with it, with a creative use of props and off-stage sounds amplifying the narrative of the four girls. Completely in tune with Sabrina’s writing, the direction brings the story to life, furthering the narrative as we reach our somewhat surprising conclusion.

 

It is clear to see why Dugsi Dayz has enjoyed sold-out seasons and awards in previous runs. A refreshing and fresh take on a classic trope, bringing culture to a wider audience leads to a witty and impactful story. With stunning performances and accessible writing, it is a great way to kick off what looks set to be a storming season at Royal Court and give Side eYe’s work the opportunities it deserves.



Diugsi Dayz plays at Royal Court until 18th May, Tickets from https://royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/

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