Right from the beginning, this play grabs you and does not let go until the end. The lights and set transport you to another world even though we are told that we are still in the Gerhart. The actual language of the play requires you to actively listen in order to appreciate it and its folkloric value. Also, the way it’s delivered, especially by Omar Madkour, is very engaging.
More enjoyable, however, are the mawawil sung which are very stirring. The song about returning from Alamein really made me think about all that this country has been through in the thousands of years it has existed, all the aggression it has seen, and the absolute loyalty and bravery of its people, which really gives me heart that we will be able to see this revolution to its proper ending. The scene changes rudely jerk you out of the trance the songs put you in and throw you headlong into another scene; seeing how beautiful the songs are I would wish for a longer moment to digest them before the transition happens. The revolution that takes place adds hope to an otherwise desperate and grim existence, but I would have wished for the ending to reflect that a bit more by having the mermaids give Naema courage instead of talking to her of more suffering yet to come, even though, reverting back to reality, we know that we still have a long way ahead. As for the acting, I was struck by the attention to detail and the style in which it was presented.
Sarcasm reeks in one of the scenes where the men and women farmers are praying for Hassan against the tyrants. It makes you realize just how pathetic we can be at times, contenting ourselves and trusting divine intervention when swift and unhesitating action is what is needed.
Rafik Ashraf and Ali Atia manage to lighten macabre situations and make them very funny with their body language during the aforementioned scene and the revolution scene. Sara Sharaawi does a great job by continuing to very determinedly sulk even though she sits hidden away in the corner. As for the leading male role it would have been better to have it filled by any other member of the cast as I was unable to hear what Hassan Abou el Rous was saying at times and did not find his voice suitable for the type of songs that were sung.
On the whole, this is a very talented cast which really delivered on the believability despite the trickiness of the dual reality presented by the play. I was almost relieved at how the play alluded to our concerns, such as the story about the snipers shooting from atop the AUC campus, and held a mirror up to those who are too scared to say something, really showing what fear can make out of people. If you take one thing away from this play let it be to always take a stand and speak up.