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Review: Laila The Musical

A sumptuous romance of epic proportions

With its beautiful set, on point performances and creative costumes, Laila The Musical is a sumptuous romance of epic proportions. Re-telling the classic Indian story of star-crossed lovers Laila and Majnu, Laila is a tale of love, honour and fate that will have you enchanted, from the moment it opens with a magical fairytale style shadow puppet performance, through to the rhythmic bhangra beats of the closing scene. Written and Directed by Pravesh Kumar, Artistic Director of RIFCO Arts, it contains all the crowd-pleasing elements one would expect from this ground-breaking theatre company, but with added emotional tugs at your heart strings.

Falling in love is never easy and as the timeless tale of Laila and Majnu unravels so do the character’s heartache. Leading lady Laila (Mona Goodwin) plays the role of a princess living in captivity, with ease, as she serenades the audience with her rich voice and elegant moves. Although the story is one that the audience will be familiar with, the beauty of this version lies in what each member of the cast brings to the stage. They all own their roles with passion.

Stand-out moments include every song performance by Qays/Manju (played by singer-come-actor Reece Bahia), hearing his velvet voice live is enough reason to come and watch the show, the dessert scenes where floaty fabric ripples on stage to mimic sandstorms, and the ‘Wah Wah song’ during which you wish the story would change to being purely about the Prince (the brilliant Surinder Shin Singh Parwana) and his camp clan – they could so hold an entire show together. As the story is set in historic times, costumes too have been carefully curated and designed by Andy Kumar and it’s refreshing to see elegant outfits worn by Laila, although a princess, her clothes are more beautiful than they are bling.

Written 700 years before Shakespeare penned Romeo and Juliet, the story follows the familiar path of a young pair destined to be together, though destiny itself has its own plans. The songs and score flow beautifully throughout the storytelling then just as you think it’s all about loved up poetic passages and dreams coming true, the plot hits you unexpectedly with dramatic consequences – come with tissues you’ll be needing them for the sad parts.

Every bit as enjoyable as a major West End musical, this intimate production is a satisfying watch that makes for good date material, as much as it does a family outing. Catch it on tour across the UK now.

Image: David Fisher

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