Jihad! The Musical

Book by Zoe Samuel; Lyrics by Zoe Samuel and Benjamin Scheuer; Music by Benjamin Scheuer
Jermyn Street Theatre
(2010)

Production photo

There’s nothing like a good parody of a topical issue to draw attention to a serious issue and that lets you have a good laugh at the same time. Unfortunately Jihad! The Musical is not such a show. We follow poor, innocent Sayid as he is seduced by an American TV journalist who wants to make her name by setting him up us a terrorist. Once in America, he is in fact duped by a group of terrorists and is convinced to join them in their mission, thus fulfilling the fictional role the journalist had planned for him.

Jihad! The Musical is nothing more than a Teen America wanabee but with none of the originality. We’ve seen this set up before and whilst initially the gag is funny once again, it quickly wears thin. The opening number, although a blatant rip off of the opening number from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, gets the show off to a good start with “Salaam Sayid” replacing “Bonjour Belle”. However unmemorable songs, accompanied by ludicrously over the top performances and a few puppets thrown in (though as I said this is no Team America) become rather monotonous.

The show lacks any sophistication as it seems to throw any gag it can possibly think of into the mix; dancing Muslim girls complete with feather fans, dancing camels and a plenitude of very bad accents.

Whilst the acting is completely exaggerated, the songs, whilst not compelling, are actually sung well. Gina Murray giver her sister Maz (currently playing Killer Queen in We Will Rock You) a run for her money with her powerful belt.

If you’re brazen enough to take on a subject like terrorism and rip it to shreds, then it is imperative it is done well. To compare once more to Team America which mimics Americans and American’s ideas of the Middle East, Jihad! The Musical chooses to mimic the terrorists and, although it clearly intends to be tongue in cheek, it instead highlights the creators' own ignorance and becomes just plain silly.

Jihad! The Musical wastes its time trying to be funny for funny’s sake without actually trying to comment on anything. Not so much a new musical that will be exploding onto the West End scene, but rather one that should be taken out the back and quietly detonated.

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan