Culture

Mocking contemporary society with a whimsical shadow play

BEIRUT: “I can’t even bear my shadow!” cries Edward at the opening of “Shesh Besh,” a new play from writers Fouad Yammine, Marylise Aad and Elie Youssef. “I will pack it in my suitcase and get rid of it.”

The despairing protagonist heads to a trash collector to get rid of his shadow, thus setting in train an eventful journey. The suitcase holding his shadow moves from the garbage man to a trader who deals in shadows, finally ending up in the hands of an appealing young lady.

Debuting at the Sunflower Theater Thursday, the whimsical play satirizes contemporary society underneath its fantastical facade.

On tracking down the trash collector, Edward hears his tragic love story. It transpires that the object of the trash collector’s affection admired his shadow even more, eventually eloping with it. Hearing this story, Edward decides that this heart-broken man is the suitable person to relieve him of his burden.

After Edward’s departure, the garbage man is stunned by the reappearance of his own shadow. They both travel to the shadow market where people buy and sell shades, exchanging unsuitable shadows for fitting ones.

There, the trash collector and his shadow hand the suitcase over to a merchant of shadows in exchange for trash. Fantastic dancing shows and projected images make this a particularly spectacular sequence, as the merchant controls and manipulates the shadows he owns.

The merchant presents Edward’s shadow to his beloved lady, who turns out to be the very same one who the trash collector adores. The young woman, it seems, is a serial lover of shadows, swiftly tiring of each one and using it to adorn a chandelier dangling in her room.

She feels genuine human love for Edward, who reciprocates her feelings. Ultimately, however, he decides he loves his shadow more. To spare his shadow the woeful destiny of the woman’s macabre collection, Edward packs his shadow in his bag and escapes.

“Shesh Besh” uses satire to tackle the exigencies of contemporary society. The shadow market is a clear indictment of a materialistic world gone mad, where people are prepared to sell their shadows. The compromised principles of these characters are indicated by the fact that they’ve already bought new bodies, noses and voices.

The writers make a point of mocking those who try to hide what they really are in order to keep up public appearances.

After all the eccentric high-jinks of the play, a stylishly executed finale brought the evening to a close. With the help of projections and lighting effects, the cast and crew evoked a throng of flying umbrellas, dancing coffins and mourning shadows.

“Shesh Besh” can be seen March 4-7, 8:30 pm at the Sunflower Theater. For further details, call +961 1 381 290.

 

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