Theatre 503, London, until 2nd November
Out of Sorts examines what it means to grow up as a first-generation British Muslim, balancing and straddling the two worlds; of that which is at home and that of the outside world. We see the events of a weekend unravel so that Zara, our protagonist is unable to keep the two worlds apart any longer.
The writing reflects the complexities of whiteness, privilege and racism in a way I haven’t yet seen touched on in fringe theatre. Whilst some of the dialogue is flawed, the commitment in writing beyond siloes without perpetuating stereotypes results in exciting and necessary theatre.
Myrian Acharki gives a stand out performance, she brought an authenticity and truth to the character of Zara’s mother, Layla. The penultimate scene between Layla and Zara is executed skillfully and with heart as we explore what depression, though never named as such, looks like in its many manifestations. For the first time we see a rage and frustration from Layla that she is only seen and defined as an immigrant and speaks to just how limiting this lens that is put upon her, really is. A particularly memorable line that shot straight to the heart, ‘Everybody has a private thought, no matter who they are’. The affection and warmth of Layla’s unconditional love is touching and beautifully packed in to this scene.
Claudius Peters gives a memorable performance as Anthony – every line delivered with a considered and gentle truth. The second act delves further into internalised oppression, with Anthony telling Zara “You have self hatred running through you and that is the worst poison of all”- a line that really hits home thanks to Peters’ powerful delivery.
The script is careful to present the complex and differing ways in which prejudice is experienced for different people depending on skin colour, nationality and even class in a way that I have not previously experienced onstage.
Oznue Cifci gives an impressive performance as Fatima, Zara’s younger sister. The character’s poetry and music teases us throughout the play, before eventually the audience is treated to Cifci’s beautiful singing voice.
The play dances on themes of depression and eating disorders with a light touch that allows room for the exploration of identity. Improvements could perhaps be made by adding detail in design and direction, however, Out of Sorts is a beautiful portrayal of what happens when we don’t talk about the issues we face and how that manifests. It made me think, cry and I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for what Danusia does next.
© Roann McCloskey 2019
Image © Helen Murray