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Wednesday, 08 April 2020

Cairo play explores Rumi’s thoughts on contemporary love and marriage

Directed by Mohamad Ibrahim with choreography by Monadel Antar, the play ‘The Lovers' Messages’ looks at different aspects of the male-female relationship

May Selim, Friday 27 Dec 2019
Rumi
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Views: 2793

Couples’ disagreements, marital problems...is there anything more difficult?

On the stage of the Miami Theatre in downtown Cairo, director Mohamed Ibrahim offers a magic potion to resolve the difficulties of the love relationship. The answer comes in Rassael El-Oshaq (“The Lovers' Messages”), a play based on precepts of love from the Sufi poet Jalal Al-Din Rumi.

The play opens with a dance that sums up the relationship between a man and three women: his wife, his friend and his mistress. He is never satisfied, while the three women keep suffering. Rumi, played by Moufid Ashour, comments on the events. He takes stock of the situation, speaking of love, loyalty and tolerance while evoking the broader and deeper meaning of divine love.

Separate sketches summarise the different problems of the contemporary couple where the past mixes with the present.

The character of Rumi is on a journey into today's world; he meets young people and tries to help them understand what love really is. He always supports the woman, considering her a divine, tender and fragile creature, saying: "Love exists for women."

A show with spiritual overtones

Ibrahim has created a musical show with a Sufi character. He uses Sufi songs and compositions by Ali Al-Helbawi, inspired by Rumi’s poetry.

Monadel Antar's choreography highlights the different aspects of the male-female relationship. Through their bodies, the actors portray love, seduction, disharmony, conflict and betrayal.

One of the most expressive scenes is that of a broken-hearted woman who seeks refuge in Sufism. With the help of simple movements, we see her lying on the ground and saddened, then she begins to turn like the whirling dervishes, until she enters a trance.

For their part, the scenography and the costumes are rather unexpected: we find rosewood patterns and a classic golden lounge. Nothing goes hand-in-hand with the Sufi atmosphere. The couples are dressed in white dresses and black uniforms. In the context of the play, this traditional contrast between white and black fails to add much to the room. Only Rumi stands out, with a white silk galabeya and a green scarf.

The sketches scroll one after the other. The contrast between the slang of today's youth and Rumi’s literary Arabic provokes the laughter of the audience. The Sufi poet disappears, leaving his book and his precepts of love on stage.

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The play is on every day at 8:30pm at the Miami Theatre, Talaat Harb Street, Downtown Cairo.

 

* This article was originally published in French in Al Ahram Hebdo's 25 December 2019 issue 

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