UKTW - 25 years online

Rumi: The Musical

3
Seen at the London Coliseum
By Derek

Written by Dana Al Fardan and Nadim Naaman, Rumi: The Musical is based on a Story by Evren Sharma. This examines the mysterious relationship between Rumi, the philosopher and poet, and his mentor Shams Tabrizi, and how their extraordinary friendship impacted the lives of Rumi’s family.

Without knowledge of this 13th century mystic, the book makes little sense. Initial songs introduce many characters but we do not know who they are or what their relationships are. The wanderer Shams seeks his spiritual other half, and finds him in Rumi, but we are offered no insight into their shared philosophical delight. Why is Shams so special? And then he leaves. Is it because of the mild threats, or because it is the way to release Rumi’s potential? Then he comes back, triggering the first dramatic action and his own demise. The story lacks drive and drama though it aims to question cultural tradition, gender equality and the heavy price of success and fame on loved ones.

The music is lush, bearing a distinctive Middle Eastern sound and beautifully delivered by the Orchestra conducted by Joe Davison. The choreography concisely adds visual texture and successfully fills the vast stage.

Ramin Karimloo is convincing as Shams with a delightful voice and a touch of humour which invigorates his character. Nadim Naaman’s Rumi is a puzzle – I feel the writer allowed his awe for the poet to overshadow the storytelling and rounding of his character. Casey Al Shaqsy gives Kimya heart in a powerful performance, but her role in the drama is underwritten. The cast all fulfil their roles well, but this is an opportunity missed.

The remarkable man who developed the ritual which led to the Whirling Dervishes deserves a better account of his life and poetry than an unexplained whirling dance sequence and a single dervish to focus the finale.

Derek Benfield


 
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