Posted on May 7, 2007


I was frankly surprised to find that my friends were willing to go to see Guys and Dolls at AUC. I shouldn’t have been, though, because several of them are former theatre geeks and fans, with one most unlikely character having actually been known to perform various ambitious dance moves on a car during the last AUC musical, Grease. Plus, at least one of our friends was actually in Guys and Dolls. I’ve noted, at any rate, that here in the M.E., there doesn’t seem to be much gender delineation when it comes to entertainment.
So, Tourism Girl – now former – duly obtained numerous tickets for closing night, only to have several persons drop out. I told her I probably had some friends who might be interested, and called around. Amnesiac and M, convulsed with laughter, said no with a firmness more usually found in accuseds undergoing cross-examination; another friend had already seen it; Little Bubbly was looking for apartments, and the Mouse asked numerous questions and then refused, as is his wont (I did get snarky though). So I gave up and made my way to Horreya (a real dive made attractive by the 8 L.E. beers), where Former Tourism Girl awaited in a frazzled state, her taxi driver having actually reached into the backseat to grope her – and then overcharged her. I promised to write down a bunch of phrases she could screech at drivers on those occasions, which may go a little way to lessen my shame at my countrymen. We gulped down an ice-cold beer each (I was forced to chug mine by tyrants who insisted we weren’t going to get seats) and walked over.
I was going to write a review of Guys and Dolls, but the vast majority of my remarks are right here in this review. I always liked that Joseph Fahim’s pieces, but I honestly can’t believe how we came to the exact same conclusions. I didn’t read it before I went. I only have a few other observations.
I thought Kaveh Niazi as Nathan Detroit had a truly beautiful voice, as one would expect of a voice student and member of the Collegium Musicum of Columbia. He had far and away the best voice of any cast member and was one of the best actors, too. I was also strangely charmed by Hany Seif as Nicely Nicely Johnson. He had a great speaking voice and a lot of stage presence, even if his singing was sub-par. He was definitely my favourite of the craps players, even though I was frankly delighted by the energy of Bassem Kameel’s rendition of “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat”. The entire scene was very well put together. But hey, is craps the most boring form of gambling or what? Thank God vices have come along since then.
Also, I know the play is set in the thirties, but it has a thoroughly unfeminist bent that disturbed me. I always analyze anything I watch from a feminist perspective, which ruins a lot of stuff, and annoys people who are sitting next to me as I don’t think I have ever kept any remark to myself. But I really cringed to hear the lines “Carefully expose him to domestic life/ And if he ever tries to stray from you/ Have a pot roast/ Have a headache/Have a baby!” I vacillate between thinking that maybe manipulation is merely practical, and indeed empowering, men being what they are (and not appearing to have changed much since the alleged sexual revolution), and being revolted by the notion that it is necessary to do so to form a healthy relationship. Either way, it is certainly demeaning to try and trick an unsuitable man into staying with a woman through, essentially, serving them and placing unwanted responsibilities on them. It is demeaning for anyone to “tame” anyone, in fact. Adelaide also sings a song about how she is developing a psychosomatic cold from frustration over being unmarried. Offensive. However, if one were to strip entertainment of racism and sexism and all the isms, chances are there would be very little left.
As an important note to the House Managers at the Falaki Mainstage Theatre – the A/C was motherfucking cold. It would be a shame if people were forced to leave plays in order to remove icicles from their noses. Don’t ruin your performances like that – I know it’s hot on stage, but surely audiences should not need to prepare themselves for an evening at the theater by pulling out items from their winter wardrobes.
After the play I met Kate Greenberger, who was very nice as well as really talented, and who told me I was shorter than she had imagined. I also introduced myself to Ali Nasser, who played Sky Masterson, and who I thought had great charisma and stage presence, and is good looking too (and this is saying a lot since I hate using the words charisma and presence – it’s not egalitarian. One of the many points of difference between me and Wee). My goal in meeting this individual was to persuade him to perform in Stand Up Cairo. However, this may have been jeopardized by my blurting out that he seemed bigger on stage. Which is true, but does not endear people to men, I think. No save. I’ll have to dispatch someone more personable than I to talk to him about it.