Ramadan is always the appropriate time to start reviving national heritage. Egyptian Icons in cinema and history get their share of television series, and folk tales are always re-read and recaptured.
Along those lines, El-Sawy Culture Wheel hosted sketches of four of Fouad El-Mohandes’ plays directed by Barakat Zaky yesterday, as part of a four-day theatre festival.
The four plays included in the sketches were: El-Sekerteer El-Fanni (The Technical Advisor), Ana We Howa We Heya (Me, him and her), Ana Feen Wenty Feen (You’re out of my League) and Sayedaty El-Gameela (an Arabic adaptation of My Fair Lady).
With sketches from one of the major icons in Egyptian theatre, the first evening failed to revive the old comic’s plays; in fact it downgraded them to a demeaning level. The low quality was not only apparent in the acting but from everything in the show, including the very poor set.
One of the most apparent flops in these sketches was the actor who took the parts of Fouad El-Mohandes. He did not capture the humour or the ease of Fouad El-Mohandes. His tone and movements were flat, and almost no laughs were heard in the half-empty room throughout the whole performance.
Other actors didn’t fare any better as their energy was low, and those supposedly humorous moments were done with such affected effort.
It seems that the only entertaining and valuable aspect of the whole evening was the music from his film Matar El-Hob (The Airport of Love) played during the intermission, something that one could’ve done in the comforts of one’s home.
It is not an easy challenge to try to live up to the Egyptian comic icon, but imitating him badly, in this context, only served as an affront to the hilarious and artistic Fouad El-Mohandes. One only has to remember the recent Egyptian film Al-Fagoumy, which is based on the life of the poet Ahmed Foad Negm, to know that no heed is given to any of our national icons.
No time and effort is given to accurately depicting those important figures, making one wonder why attempt to do it in the first place?
El-Sawy Culturewheel has become known for its open-door-policy. It also hosts a large number of festivals, but one has to question their individual and collective importance. How do the over 30 festivals per year run by El-Sawy Culturewheel benefit the Egyptian cultural scene? What do the dozens of bad quality performances do for the budding artistic community in Egypt?
The theatre festival programme at El-Sawy Culturewheel continues for three more days. Let’s hope that the upcoming evenings will have more something more substantial to offer.
7 August: “Revolution of the Zyng”, Tyatro Theatre Group, directed by Mohamed Barakat
8 August: Ernst Toller’s “Hinkemann”, Ehsas Theatre Group, directed by Mohamed Abdallah
9 August: “The Tragedy of El-Hallag" written by Salah Abdel Sabour, performed by Que Theatre Group, directed by Ahmed Seif
All performances take place at Wisdom Hall of El-Sawy Culture Wheel, 26th July Street, Zamalek. Performances begin at 9:30pm.