By Zeinab Gad
A post on Facebook drew the attention and curiosity of over 4,000 social media user to watch a new play, called “Soul Bar”, or “Rooh”. The post promises “good art, tears and laughter”, but did the play fulfil this promise?
The first thing that struck attendees when they first entered the theatre was the decorations. The 1940s theme was noticeable through the stage and bar decorations.
The play is about a group of six people living in the same town, who run into each other in a public bar one evening, and start complaining about life.
Ms. Red, a forgotten singer, runs into Mr. Stone, a plumber and a first degree pessimist, at the bar. Mr. Percy, the realist, and his beautiful wife, Evy, join later for an evening beer, and soon enough they are joined by the town’s old lady. They join each other in commiseration on how difficult life is and how each wishes they could die and end their misery.
Later on comes Harry, the cheerful optimist who refuses to let life get the best of him, and he turns the mood of the bar around, until Death shows up in the form a man and demands to take one of them, forcing them to choose who will leave with him.
Faced with an impossible decision, each one starts pleading for his life.
Although the cast could not be categorised as A-list stars, they all dazzled the audience equally. The genuine feelings that each character conveyed brought tears from many audience members. Fatma Mohamed Ali’s portrayal of Mrs. Red attracted a lot of attention with her outstanding singing numbers, as well as her genuine acting skills.
Meanwhile, Yasser Ezzat, who played Mr. Stone, redefined black comedy with his sarcastic yet straightforward comments that caused increasing laughter. Walking the same line, the crew delivered a professional performance that had a major effect on the audience
Soul Bar is an adaptation of the one-act play written by J.B. Priestley, entitled “The Rose and Crown”, rendered in classical Arabic.
The play is part of the Egyptian National Theatre Festival, and was open to the public for two days for free.
Outside the theatre, more than 200 people were waiting to enter the show. Even though the theatre can barely take 80 people inside, the organisers fell into the mistake of giving away tickets without knowing the exact number of the jury, their assistants, and the press. This led to chaos, which caused outrage from the audience, who had been waiting since 5pm to see the show.
Wagih Ahmed, a monteur who came to see the show, said: “Things were very hectic today, although the manager of the theatre was standing outside and promised everyone that they will see the show. The treatment was very bad and the whole thing was very business-like, not artistic… This is the first time I come here, and probably the last.”
“They could have allowed booking online and we would have avoided this.”
Aytan Amin, director of the acclaimed independent film “Villa 69”, said: “I’m okay with not entering because of the limited number of tickets, but the problem is that the manager of the theatre told us himself, after the tickets ran out, that everyone will get in, and that’s why we stood waiting. He should have been clear.”
At the end of the day, the organisers resolved to have two shows running back-to-back on the same evening, after much disagreement from both sides.