Jabala and the Jinn

Join forces with Jabala on this mystical journey, featuring a very cheeky Jinn!

Jabala is seven and life has been throwing her some pretty big curve balls as of late; she’s still not friends with the popular girl at school, her Dad is doing his best but struggling and just a few months ago, her mum passed away. The audience are invited to join Jabala as she navigates through a particularly tricky time, where she will have to rely on friendship, forgiveness and fun to see her through to the other side.

The performance opens with the sound of birdsong and the radio, whilst the set comprises of a homely interior of shelves, bright colours and a table and chair. Jabala (Natalie Davies) and her dad (Jay Varsani) are in the midst of their usual morning routine, where she is typically running late whilst he tries in vain to get her up, out and ready for school. The relationship between father and daughter is something that shines throughout the performance – a moving depiction of love and care as they both grapple with the loss of Jabala’s mother. The physical motif repeated throughout is a heart-warming sequence that visually highlights their relationship and how they need each other, now more than ever.

Away from home and in the playground at school, Jabala is doing her best to get the attention of the “popular” girl – Amy, with little success. At one point, Amy offers her a “trial period” – so long as Jabala goes by a different “more English” name. Although prejudice isn’t a central theme, the social commentary on the subject is carefully threaded throughout – for example, Munir, nicknamed “refugee boy”, is mocked for his imperfect English. Showcasing these moments is important for young audiences; to consider their own actions and behaviours, as well as (potentially) seeing their own experiences on the stage.

One morning, Jabala hears an ethereal voice speaking Arabic and at first, she’s convinced it must be the voice of her Mother. In order to translate the voice, Jabala strikes a deal with Munir; she will teach him English if he deciphers what the voice is saying. The result is the conjuration of the Jinn (Safiyya Ingar) – a supernatural creature in the form of a human girl, who lives “in between”. The Jinn’s presence is accompanied by clever lighting changes, as lamps and bulbs flicker when she appears, visually adding to the mystical element of the story.

The trio of performers bring a brilliant dynamic to the stage – Varsani as Munir is buoyant yet nervous, Davies as Jabala is cheeky and candid, Ingar as the Jinn is chaotic and bursting with energy. As an audience member there is no option but to stay totally engaged with the characters as they frolic around the stage. As the three plot to cheer up Jabala’s dad in time for Eid, a dilemma presents itself and the youngsters will each have to make a decision about the future of their friendship.

With slick transitions, aided with sound and lighting, Jabala and the Jinn is easy to follow and the story keeps the audience captivated. Towards the end of the performance, there are a couple of moments that feel rushed in the writing. Jabala makes a firm decision and then there is a “180 moment” at the end which needed more explanation as it felt a little convenient. Likewise, the Jinn’s quest for 7 items also seemed to be skimmed over – perhaps it could have been mentioned earlier in the dialogue to “plant the seed”. However, there are plenty of gems in Asif Khan’s writing – a stand out moment is Jabala’s observation – “I knew he was sad because when you’re sad, your eyes look sad. And his eyes were sad”.

A performance bursting with energy, Jabala and the Jinn explores the strength to be found in friendship and family – a timely reminder for audiences of all ages.

Next Showing: Now – Sunday 25th April

Running Time: 50 minutes

Tickets: HERE £10 per household

You can read more about the creative team HERE

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