Dugsi Dayz - Edinburgh Fringe Festival (UK)
Reviewed by Justin Clarke
Underbelly, Cowgate - Belly Button
12:40 - Aug 17-20, 22-27
Suitability: 12+ (Guideline)
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Side eYe Productions – Untapped Award Winner 2023
Warnings and additional info: Contains distressing or potentially triggering themes as well as strong language and flashing lights.
- Amusing, hilarious and thought provoking whilst feeling wholly original, despite its Breakfast Club inspiration -
Harnessing the power of The Breakfast Club, the new play Dugsi Dayz sets audiences inside Dugsi detention inside a London Mosque where four Somali teenagers find themselves trapped for a Saturday of Islamic Teachings. Throughout the course of the afternoon, we are treated to crisp banter, new horrific storytelling to scare the younger generations, and culturally unique storytelling specific to young Somali women that ultimately holds messages for us all.
Dugsi Dayz at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Abdi Alasow
Written by Sabrina Ali, we are introduced to beautifully fleshed out characters embodied superbly by their performers. Yasmin (Faduma Issa) and Munira (Sabrina Ali) are best friends fixated on creating rich banter, Salma (Susu Ahmed) is the hilarious do-gooder of the group, and Hani (Hadsan Mohamud) is cold-shouldered, hiding a secret from the rest. There’s a beautiful authenticity to each character, capturing how Year 9 students would act and behave within this Saturday detention. Each one of them has their own unique moments and traits that make them endearing, but Ahmed shines in her spot on comedic timing that creates some of Dugsi Dayz best moments.
The well-known shtick of teenagers stuck in a room together and ultimately finding a commonality is utilised well, with Ali relying only on her characters and their interactions to create the richness of the text. There’s no complex arcs or sudden shifts in situations here, instead there is wholly realistic dialogue that meshes Islamic phrases and British quirks to stray away from the stereotypes of Islamic women that have been seen in the past. That’s where the appeal of Dugsi Dayz for a wider audience lies. Sure, there are jokes here that only Islamic audiences will understand, but it's not necessarily isolating for the wider audience either.
There are moments where the direction of the script could be tightened or led with more fluidity for the decisions that were made. When the girls experience a black out and begin creating their own folk tales for the younger generations, the accusations around why each were in detention was lost and left until the finale. It's a tangent that could have been more swiftly used to bring the girls closer together and bring us back to the plot lines that were developed throughout the beginning of the show.
As the show comes to its eventual end, the eventual reveal of Hani’s truth creates one of the show’s more powerful moments and emphasises the reality of life facing Somali women that stretches beyond borders. It’s told with a soft hand by Ali and gives authenticity to the play’s voice.
Dugsi Dayz is amusing, hilarious and thought provoking whilst feeling wholly original, despite its Breakfast Club inspiration. It’s a hidden gem that has life beyond the month of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
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