Khabbaz Makes the Mark

Georges Khabbaz has a new play out: "Mish Mekhtelfin." We saw it last night, rather spontaneously, at the old Chateau Trianon in Jal el Dib. The plot is very real and riveting: young Ali from the Bekaa region goes to London to study engineering, and there he meets and falls in love with beautiful Christina from Achrafieh. Conflicting religious backgrounds do not inhibit their affection for each other, and they court for two years before determining the time ripe to fly home to Lebanon and declare their marriage intentions to their parents.

In Lebanon, however, the magic is lost, as their news startles their parents and they become stricken with panic at what such a union will bring. While both sets of parents ultimately leave it to the young couple to decide their connubial bliss, Christina opts out, visibly perplexed at the potential implications of a Muslim-Christian household, and returns to London. Ali is shattered, and the play, which is actually set two years after the separation, sees him delusive, deranged, and mildly schizophrenic, still believing himself betrothed to Christina.

While the denouement is rather serious and parts with run-of-the-mill fairy tales, the play brilliantly weaves humor, word puns, a rich tapestry of three languages, and ebullient acting. Khabbaz is simply genius, his flair with literary element and technical finesse unquestionable. Moreover, he provokes the age-old discussion of inter-religious matrimony: wise or not? Though cultural norms in Lebanon forbid it, Khabbaz suggests that everything with time is slowly accepted. Just as the Lebanese have learned to accept the union between a local and a foreigner, or the marriage of a man to a bride several decades his junior, they will eventually warm to an interfaith espousal. Approve of, no; embrace, certainly not; but adjust to, perhaps. Possibly. Yes.

Don't miss this production, with performances every Thursday through Sunday evenings at 7.30pm.

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