On Thursday, February 8, people from different ages and generations gathered around Theatre Gemmayze to watch Joe Kodeih’s latest play, called, “Abu El Ghadab.”
The play was an hour and fifteen minute long monologue in Arabic and, occasionally, in French. The play brought out fragmented moments of war relating to the 2006 Israeli attack as it touched upon the older generations’ response and way of living. In addition to that, Kodeih conveyed nostalgic and symbolic moments of the 1975 war, which lasted until 1990. He, however, mocked the way some people were living in the war. In one notable scene, Kodeih characterised a moment in which people would sit and play cards as the bombs were in full force. This absurdity resembles a certain truth, and thus, audiences remarked instances of comedy during such dramatic times.
The stage was beautifully and simply set with gorgeous lighting of different kinds. The background contained “Abu el Ghadab”, the title of the play, written in Arabic with streaks of black paint on the regular wooden panel. The actor used simple wooden chairs, throughout the play, only when necessary and called for in the monologue.
The acting was brilliant; seeing one person on stage acting out different characters and objects created a strong imaginative atmosphere. This atmosphere is quite hard to create and rare to find, and Kodeih impeccably captured it.
In an exclusive conversation with Outlook, Kodeih reported that he improvised only 0.1% of the show and that he had written the play himself and gotten feedback and criticism from people in the industry before showing it in the theatre. When asked what the message of the play was, he replied, “a question mark.”
His answer is completely accurate, seeing as some parts of the script were not really intact. However, this may have been done on purpose to show the audience that even their memories concerning different moments in Lebanese history were not remembered and have been repressed.
The play was dynamically presented with the different feelings of the actor, who also broke the fourth wall by talking to the audience whenever comments came up or when it was part of the script.
Overall, the play felt very realistic and grasped the audience’s attention. It is showing until February 25th, so catch it while you can!