Egyptian take on Cupid reopens Yusuf Idris theatre hall after 11 years of closure

May Sélim, Tuesday 10 Jan 2023

Khetat Cupid (Cupid's Plans), a musical comedy that mocks the problems of married life, has reopened the Yusuf Idris Hall of El-Salam Theatre in Cairo after it has been closed for 11 years for renovations.



The story of the play follows Cupid, who leaves Olympus and passes by Cairo. Unlike the myth, here, Cupid does not present himself as the angel of love but rather as a mature man who no longer shoots his magic arrows. He is now a radio host renowned for solving problems couples encounter in their love life.

Following the text by Abdallah El-Shaer, who created a Greco-Roman mythological mix and match, the Roman god Cupid is married to the Greek goddess Hera. Their daughter, the Greek moon goddess Selene who, is in love with her cousin Helios (in Greek mythology, Helios was Selene’s brother). Using those characters, Cupid’s Plans is set in 2022, within the typical Egyptian realities.

The play is the first production performed at the newly reopened Yusuf Idris hall, which had been closed for 11 years for restorations.

Director Ahmed Fouad presents himself as “a son of the modern theatre troupe, commonly known as the El-Salam Theatre troupe. I was asked to do a show for the reopening of the hall, and I chose the theme of love. I wanted to present Cupid far from the clichés associated with him as the god of love. This is what led to the creation of a social comedy.”

During the play, Cupid confesses to the audience that he has problems in his marital life. Also unhappy with the romantic relationship between his daughter Selene and her cousin Helios, Cupid decides to put their love to the test. He keeps listing failed love stories to them and tells them about many family constraints. Cupid believes that this way, he can fight against the love of his daughter, and change the young lovers’ mind regarding their possible marriage.

The musical play includes old love songs by Laila Mourad, which helps to create a very romantic atmosphere in the old Cairo house where the events take place. There are also songs by Mohamad Fawzi, interpreted by the beautiful voice of Selene (Omneya Hassan), dealing with her father, Cupid (Abdel-Moneim Riyad) who shifts from being an angel to demon. 

Selene and Helios work through the problems, many of which are set by Cupid himself, with the lively musical comedy concluding in a happy ending.

Yusuf Idris hall 

The Yusuf Idris hall of El-Salam Theatre has its own unique history. Idris, the renowned Egyptian novelist and playwright, influenced authors and theatre makers in the 1960s with his avant-garde, sometimes even absurd subjects, which criticised socio-political life. Among his known works that include novels, short stories and plays are Farahat's Republic & A Love story (1954), The Critical Moment (1957), The Farfours (1964), Earthly Comedy (1966), The Stripped Ones (1969), The Third Sex (1970) and The Harlequin (1983).

The Yusuf Idris hall opened its doors in 1992, hosting the play El-Qafas (The Cage) by Sobhy Youssef, presenting the innovative approach to theatre, followed by a number of works hosted by the hall.

Among the significant plays that marked the hall was staging of Catherine Hayes’ Skirmishes as translated from English, adapted and directed by Hanaa Abdel Fattah in 1998. The play featured Magda El-Khatib and Safaa El-Toukhi. 

The last show presented in the hall before its closure was Beit Al-Nafady (Nafady's House) in 2011, directed by Karim Maghawry.

The restorations of the hall included refurbishing the backstage and providing new sound and light equipment.

The play is staged everyday except Mondays and Tuesdays, at 7pm, at El-Salam Theatre, Yusuf Idris hall, El-Salam Theatre at Kasr El-Aini Street, Cairo.

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