2014-03-09

"We Are All Born Mad..."

I hate politics! Not because it's fashionable to do so but because I live in Lebanon. An East-Mediterranean country with beautiful geography, exquisite cuisine and one of the worlds most dysfunctional socio-political systems.

When I think of Lebanon, I remember a fractal game I used to doodle when bored during my school years. I would draw a triangle, then draw a median line splitting it into two other triangles. Then I would repeat the same thing for each of the two triangles and so onward...
This can best illustrate the schisms that spread and infiltrate all the stratas of Religion, Politics, Business and Social behavior in our daily life.

When Joe Kodeih announced his next play would be be named "Michel & Samir", after two of the most well know political opponents on the local scene over the past 30 years or so, my initial knee-jerk reaction was rather dismissive. But for anyone who has known Joe for as long as I have or has had the chance to watch any of his previous plays, there could be no doubt that what he had up his sleeve extended beyond the cliches offered by the overabundant political satire shows and plays that plague our TV stations and theaters.

The setting and characters both imaginative (as offered by both written and verbal disclaimers) represent two patients, Rodrigue Sleiman and Hicham Haddad,  with identity crisis and an apparent aversion for one another being treated  by two healthcare providers: Tony Balabane and Maguy Badawi.

Over the duration of the play we are taken on a roller-coaster ride into the obsessions, fears and insecurities of the characters tempered by a series of comical jabs at our reality. Joe Kodeih's directing and script combines with the raw talent of the actors to take us into the realm of the absurd, only to jerk us out of it when we least expect it, making us both laugh then smirk at our daily grievances.



Tony Balaban's monumental performance glued the volatile characters portrayed by the oh-so-talented Rodrigue Sleiman and unexpectedly touching Hicham Haddad in a melting pot of angry male emotions tamed by the presence of Maguy Badaoui and her central character in the play.

Michel w Samir (or Samir w Michel, depending on your personal preference) explores absurdity and comedy in equal parts of touching and engaging, not far from our day-to-day reality.

After all like the great Samuel Beckett said: "We Are All Born Mad. Some Remain So"

I sometimes think those are the lucky ones!