Was Al Madina Theater on Friday night less than half full or more than half empty?
Frankly, I don't mind the scarce crowd. I don't like most people, but I would like for this resuscitated Beirut cultural icon to continue to operate and not go belly up in this shark tank.
Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's single scene two man act is a captivating philosophical ninety-minute ping-pong match with a new bouncing ball added in periodically. One of the top contemporary playwrights in Paris, Schmitt is probably best known for "Monsieur Ibrahim".
Lebanonizing the wordy script was the star of the show. It's not an easy task to introduce words like "tayyoub" and "bahle" into an originally french script while keeping its flow and integrity.
Antoine Kerbaj was a perfect fit for the role of Znorko, the Nobel prize winner with a God complex. Alain Delon played that role in Paris, certainly you can see the physical resemblance between Kerbaj and Delon. Ziad Al Andari, as Eric Larsen the small time reporter, was trying too hard in his difficult role. He did a good job with the tough verbal exchanges, but when he had to be quiet and let his face and body do the acting, he was stiff. Overall the play was very enjoyable and it runs for 3 more weeks at Al Madina.
For some reason though I left the theater with the theme song of "Barbar Agha" stuck in my head.