Jihad: The Musical

There's something of a dichotomy going on in Jihad The Musical, and I'm not sure whether I should be deeply offended, or laughing my socks off. The high-kicking, gun-toting, burka-wearing antics of this no punches-pulled show reminded me a lot of the show-within-a-show from The Producers. Springtime For Hitler intended to offend everyone, but turned out to be a hit. This might be what we have here. But only maybe.

Our hero, if he can be described so, is Sayid al-Boom (Benjamin Scheuer), an Afghan poppy salesman who gets recruited into a terrorist cell, but falls in love with the seductress who enlisted him, Noor (Meetu Chilana). America is represented by a manipulative reporter, Foxy Redstate (Emily McNamara), whose cameraman provides the left-wing conscious for this piece, and there's what can best be described as comic Machiavellianism from cell-leader Hussien (Sorab Wadia).

The dichotomy continues, for at times this musical is both outstanding and utterly awful. Scheuer was unsure in his acting ability, but when he broke into song it was quite beautiful - exceptionally so at times. Some of the lyrics were cringingly dreadful (“I know people might abhor me, but by God they can't ignore me“), however the love ballad, “I Only See Your Eyes” was lyrically excellent and hilariously played.

A big challenge for this group from New York is that they had a tendency to either mumble their lines or lose them in slightly over-egged accents. Sadly it meant I missed many of the one-liners that had a large number of the audience a whooping an' a hollering. Perhaps those audience members where just better attuned to this piece. Curiously Scheuer went with his native American throughout, which was kind of peculiar with the lampooning of French and Afghan that was going on around him.

If you're looking for a sophisticated musical, then this ain't it. This is a madcap comedy romp, occasionally at the expense of good taste. I laughed, but I did feel a bit guilty for doing so.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

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The Blurb

Sensational new musical comedy set to incite violent applause and a new cult following. Featuring insightful satirical sequences including 'I Wanna Be Like Osama'. The West shall not be won (again) so long as we have a high-kicking chorus line!