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Bismillah: A Play About ISIS

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27 September

Theatre Deli

Plays like this are often described as black comedy. If that is the case, Bismillah is nestled somewhere in the darkness of deep space, huddled inside a black hole and squished between a Northern conversation supporting Margaret Thatcher. A comedy about ISIS. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, not a lot. It was brilliant. The perfectly-named Wound Up Theatre put on such a strong show it would be difficult for any audience member not to leave with a smile on their face, even when battling the internal question of, 'Should I really be laughing about ISIS?'

A comedy about ISIS. What could possibly go wrong?

The script and the performances managed to successfully drive home the message of having more in common with our supposed opposites than we realise, whilst stretching between some brilliant comic moments and tragic, sombre realisations. It was a true journey. As it was originally staged in 2015, some of the jokes have become a little dated (poor Cheggers), but the powerful performances in this two-hander carry the writing over these bumps.

The only downside to the whole night was the audience, who took casual theatre watching to a new level. No less than eight people left the intimate performance for the toilet, several of whom walked so close to the actors they might as well have donned a uniform and pretended to be a rescue team. I'm not against people using a rest room, but when one audience member turns up 15 minutes late and walks right across the stage with a burrito, it becomes difficult to suspend your imagination and believe you are inside an ISIS jail.

Comedy has the ability to take the most tragic of situations and highlight those areas of humanity you could never consider. Bismillah did that impeccably and I couldn't recommend it highly enough - but please go to the loo first.

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