Such a spectacular piece can only be matched with the grand space of the London Coliseum; however, I feel this musical may have struggled to reach to the far edges due to its complexity and subtlety.
Rumi is a world-famous poet, many know him without knowing they know him, and this piece does an excellent re-telling played by the talented Nadim Naaman who voice, like many of the cast, has no problem with reaching the heights of the theatre. Matched with Ramin Karimloo who plays his guide and equal in learning, with a 28-piece orchestra, this musical experience is no less than magic.
The style and intention, however, was quite unclear. Knowing that this is an idea come to life in lockdown and has been a work in progress for a while I feel slightly forgiving to the unclear moments however, I have come away still looking for the intention for many of the characters, although the songs were beautiful, they perhaps didn’t say as much or at least anything knew in each scene that they hadn’t said in text.
The songs that I did feel overwhelmed by was the ensemble moments, maybe this is also a ‘lockdown thing’ of forgetting how emotional it is to see a group of 25 people on stage singing out to you, but those moments were the ones to remember: I just wish there was a few more. The ensemble was filled with powerhouses, including the incredible Mark Samaras, assistant choreographer, whose movement and stage presence was unbeatable and the dancing which was present in the first half quite a lot, but I still wanted more of them.
During the second half the story started to take place more, the first half felt like a long introduction to the characters- I was struggling to see what the conflict was until mid-second half but by that moment it was over so quickly that the story had wrapped itself up and it was over. It didn’t quite let the audience understand and relate to the characters, more watch a story from a long time ago and not allow that emotional connection that can tug on the heartstrings.
I felt like there were so many moments what I was left thinking- that had so much potential. Whether it was in the movement, the use of the ensemble, the depth of the lyrics, there was so much that was kept at a mid-level when it has so many more reaches stocked up in the story.
However, I have no doubt the importance of seeing a show with Rumi’s story is overwhelming and outstanding for so many people as the representation in London’s West End theatres often don’t seek out to tell many new stories so for that, I applaud and feel very lucky I got to see this run. It is forever so integral that we chose new stories and uplift our rising artists and showcase stories representing the world rather than just a small corner of what we believe the world to be. So for that, thank you for staging a piece like this.
I am looking forward to seeing where this show is taken, what they do and when I get to see it next as this was never just going to be a 2-night run. I’m sure this is only the beginning.
Reviewer: Alice Rose
Reviewed: 24th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★