Review: Desperate Times at Rich Mix ★★★★

Review: Desperate Times at Rich Mix ★★★★

The follow-up to 2023 hit Dugsi Dayz is another dazzling, hilarious, touching & entertaining slice of Somali life.

Side eYe Productions wowed us with the five-star triumph Dugsi Dayz last year, so we were so excited to catch latest show Desperate Times at Rich Mix – and whilst there’s a (enjoyably) unfinished feel to the staging, this tale of a lie getting thoroughly out of hand from emerging new writer Amal Abdi is a grin-inducing pleasure.

Solo star Nadjma Abshir delivers a captivating performance as Lucky, a precariously employed supply teacher with a compulsion for petty thievery and a wicked way of spinning untruths to get herself out of trouble. Things take a turn for the truly outrageous, however, when a tall tale to slip out of a shoplifting charge is overheard by a colleague, and soon Lucky is stuffing pillows under her top and auditioning husbands!

Review: Desperate Times at Rich Mix ★★★★ 1

Kleptomania and fake pregnancy might seem unlikely subjects for an hour of laughs, but Abdi’s script is tight and finely tuned – she picks out the delicious moments of awkwardness, and fuels Abshir’s Lucky with an endless supply of crafty one-liners. For her part, Abshir delivers every line (save for some off-stage recorded audio) and owns the stage throughout. This is a bravura solo performance, with barely a break to catch a breath – a real wonder.

There’s still something of the work-in-progress about Desperate Times, and whilst the choice to make this a one-person play is mostly effective, some of the smaller roles might benefit from taking physical shape on stage. But these are relatively minor quibbles – and totally overshadowed by the energy and emotion, and the joy of watching, between fingers, as Lucky’s misadventure unfolds and unravels.