Jihad! The Musical has everything you could want in a light-hearted fringe musical with satirical undertones: catchy tunes, funny lines, topical humour and non-stop energy. Zoe Samuel and Benjamin Scheuer have created an original piece of musical theatre which deserves to play to full houses at the Jermyn Street Theatre for the rest of its run.
The story of Jihad! The Musical centres on Sayid, a young flower seller, and his quest to succeed in life. Sayid’s journey sees him transported from the streets of Jalalabad to the West, thanks to a ruthless yet charming TV reporter and the head of an unusual terror cell. He encounters some fascinating characters along the way, as well as comedy animals and, as always in a good musical, he falls in love and gets his girl.
There can be nothing but admiration for the cast. Yannick Fernandes captures Sayid’s spirit perfectly and he has a lyrical singing voice. Gina Murray is the American reporter Mary who doesn’t appear to have the heart for anything other than getting that ‘killer’ story. Ms Murray is seriously good in this role: feisty, funny and a fantastic singer. The rest of the cast (Delroy Atkinson, Tara Carrozza, Richard David-Caine and Sorab Wadia) provide such strong support that to single anyone out is a hard task. However, Atkinson as Bilal, Todd and Shaniqua deserves particular mention for playing his various roles with such aplomb and individuality that it is hard to take your eyes off him when he is on stage.
Gordon Greenberg directs the cast with skill, especially considering how quickly the action zips along and how many characters appear throughout the story. Elliot Davis and Nick Winston provide excellent musical direction and striking choreography respectively. And although the design by Lucy Bradridge and lighting by Mike Robertson are simplistic, they complement the overall piece effectively.
Jihad! The Musical obviously has a message to get across – sending up the modern day media and its depiction of terrorist behaviour – and it achieves this. But what it does better is deliver a wonderful night of fun at the theatre. I defy anyone to resist the charm of “The Jihad Jive” or “I Wanna Be Like Osama!”
- Andrew Roach