One hundred years told in three hours: Mohamed Sobhi's A Family That Has Been Blocked

Hanaa Al-Mekkawy , Sunday 26 Mar 2023

Director and actor Mohamed Sobhi presents his new play Eila Etaamallaha Block (A Family That Has Been Blocked) in which he takes us back a century and then brings us back, while presenting the evolution of family relationships.

A Family That Has Been Blocked


The play was performed at Sonbol City (20km on Cairo-Alex Road), where it premiered in December 2022 and continued to be staged until Ramadan.

The play will return in April during the Eid Al-Fitr.

The play begins with a video that transports us to 2027 in which machines have taken over every aspect of life, and human beings look more like one another as if they were cogs in a machine.

The characters sleep in boxes and go through their daily routines without any real thought, like robots.

But one day, one of them wakes up and decides to rebel against this dehumanised state.

He decides to search for the reasons behind such loss of humanity by going back in time to find out how his own family lived a hundred years ago.

The video is prepared and directed by Shadi Al-Hakim, and it serves to introduce the subject of Mohamed Sobhi's play A Family That Has Been Blocked.

The plot begins with a scene where Saad Zaghloul, leader of the 1919 Revolution, was received in the house of a conservative Egyptian dignitary in 1927.

Despite his passion for culture and the arts, a host is a man of paradoxes. For example, he judges that the gramophone can destroy the family and affect cohesion. Yet, on the other hand, he is an oriental man who wants to be modern and has an extensive library boasting works in literature and poetry.

Then, the director brings us back to the present time, where we can see that all living conditions have changed. This is the age of televisions, cell phones, and the Internet.

It becomes clear that the conservative grandfather was right:  technological progress is impacting family relationships badly.

With time, we feel the weight of the political and economic conditions. From the time of Gamal Abdel-Nasser through the years of economic opening under Sadat, everyone becomes more materialistic and individualistic.

People are shown to have become more and more interested in making a quick profit. This is reflected through the descendant of the family, which once received Saad Zaghloul, who is willing to sell his grandfather's old library and big house. 



One of the most positive aspects of the show, written by Mostafa Shehayeb, is its ability to insinuate latent conflicts rather than express them explicitly. Instead, the text suggests them intelligently through poetic descriptions and allusions.

The director maintains a fairly dynamic rhythm in the first act, while the second seeks to force laughter without emotion and human warmth.

The limited stage space made it possible to maintain good contact with the public. The characters exchange looks with the audience, making them feel complicit in the game.

The diversity of the employed music made it possible to link the different eras. The same is true for the work of scenographer Mohamed Gharabawi and costume designer, Marwa Odeh, which reflected the divergence of the social classes and times in the play.

Wafaa Sadek, who stars next to Mohamad Sobhi, incorporated several characters: sometimes she is the wife, sometimes the daughter, and then the mother in the third act. She mastered all the roles, moving subtly from one to another, remaining well aware of the details.

The remaining cast represents the “Acting Studio”, which Sobhi himself runs and in which he trains young talents. The cast includes names such as Dalia Hassan, Rehab Hussein, Menna Tarek, Laila Fawzi, Angelica Ayman, Lamia Orabi, Dalia Nabil, Kamal Attiya, Mostafa Youssef, Mohamed Youssef, Mohamed Said, Mahmoud Abou-Haniya, Mohamed Shawki Tantawi, Michael William and Helmi Galaleddine.



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