International terrorism and the threat to Britain from Al-Qaeda would probably be deemed by most as unlikely subject matter for a musical.
After all, suicide bombing, mass bloodshed and fundamental Islam do not exactly lend themselves to singing and dancing.
But Jihad the Musical by the Silk Circle Production company has forged on regardless and is already being performed on stage at the Edinburgh Festival.
The controversial satire about Islamic terrorism includes such classic tunes as “Building a bomb today, what does the manual say” and “I wanna be like Osama”.
Perhaps its creators were inspired by the success of The Producers – a runaway broadway hit which attracted criticism for its camp rendition of Nazi Germany.
Like that production, the terrorism musical – billed as a “madcap gallop through the wacky world of international terrorism” – has already sparked protests.
A petition calling for the Prime Minister to condemn the musical has been launched on his Downing Street website.
It says: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to condemn the tasteless portrayal of terrorism and its victims in Jihad the Musical.”
But producer James Lawler has downplayed the protest, saying: “We have no intention of causing offence or insult with this show, It is simply a musical comedy.”
The musical tells the story of a young Afghan peasant Sayid who dreams of making it as a flower farmer selling poppies in the West.
His plans are thwarted by a jihadi cell seeking to blow up Western targets, in particular one in Britain known as the “Unidentified, Very Prestigious Landmark”.
Sayid sings to his burkha clad mentor: “I can only see your eyes” and theatre-goers are also treated to a song called “We’re going to rock the righteous, to the Jihad jive”.
The story comes to a head on the night of the attack when Sayid must decide whose side he is on.
His sister eventually saves him, along with the French who sing “We turned and ran”.
The Independent said: “The truth is that although the show doesn’t exactly bomb, neither Zoe Samuel’s lyrics nor Evan Cabnet’s production are quite sharp enough to offend.
“It could have been a lot more topical and hard-hitting if it wanted to be really inflammatory.”
The reviewer added that the ending was “almost heart-warming”.
Jihad the Musical runs until August 26.
Aug. 3, 2007