We all have stories to tell…

Kifik ya Leila.

Directed by Michel Jabre | Staring: Nelly Maatouk  (Sat 4 February 2017)

satirical comedy, tragedy

This is the first time I watch a play for the actress Nelly Maatouk. I didn’t have any background about her so I had no I idea what to expect.

The play “kifik ya Leila” started with a one-shot video that prepares you for the amazing show that will follow. Nelly captivates your attention from the first minute she appears on the screen. Telling the story of “Leila”, Lebanese women, that struggled in a stereotyped society. Her story started early in her childhood when her father criticized her body and overweight. She tried to lose weight and achieve the image her father always wanted. But all her efforts were in vain. She felt different and weak. she worried about her body image instead of enjoying her childhood. Because looking different in a stereotyped society will make her family feel ashamed of her. Her father even made her learn to play the piano so he could be proud of her in front of his relatives. He never thought about what this child really loved or needed. This issue has followed her all her life and affected all the decisions she has made. All the bad boys she met, the drug abuse she has gone through, her body abuse with men… everything that made her, in the end, a very strong woman.

The play surely shows the society we are living in. A place where you are judged by how you look. This woman could be anyone around you a colleague, a friend, a neighbor, a sister…  No matter how much I will try to tell you all the incidents that this lady has been going through I would never be able to make you feel the pain and hurt as the actress did. the acting was amazing. you couldn’t but feel the ups and downs. the happiness, the craziness, the illogical choices she made and the misery. In a different part of the play, she brought tears to my eyes. she keeps you focus all the play duration. The overall atmosphere gets tensed with the evolution of the story.

There is a detail on the stage that captured my attention. 3 chairs were placed in the middle. 1 of them was facing the audience and the other 2 were facing the other side. As the actress was telling her stories she was sitting on the first chair, on the right, facing the audience and as she finished telling a part of her life she left the chair and used all the stage spaces to personalize the character. when she started another part of the story she used the other chair, on the left, (which wasn’t facing the audience) and when this second part of her life ended she turned the chair towards us. I was waiting, all the play, for her to turn the 3rd, middle chair, and she never did! I couldn’t understand why until the last minute of the play.

At the end where you expect that “Leila”, the strong women, will be happy with surviving all these problems and overcome all the misery she has been through. She looks at you in a very dramatic scene and reveals that “I am still unhappy!”. I was shocked and I can assure you that I didn’t understand what happened for seconds. I have to applause for the very talented and beautiful actress and all the work that have been done on that stage. but I was paralyzed. I was selfish. I wanted to know more, I didn’t want it to end that way, I didn’t want to know that she is still not happy. I wanted to tell her that her body was perfect and she needs to forget people’s bullying. when everyone started applauding, I woke up from my thoughts and realized that this play is showing a real character from the real world. Where there is no place for endings like happily ever after!

Every person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you know them. The truth might surprise you!

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