All the world's a fucking stage, and all the players are high on something…

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Frogs – A comedy by Aristophanes.

Reviewed by Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan.

Aristophanes' Frogs, The Cambridge Greek Play 2013. Photo (c) Nick Rutter 

“First, we think that all / the citizens should be made equal, and their fears removed...Next I say that no one in the city should be disenfranchised.”
Chorus Leader, 62

Putin
Dangerous and subversive ideas. Something Pussy Riot would gladly sing, and that should tell you something. I say: off with his head.
Erdogan
Indeed. He’s clearly a CIA plant. What’s governance without fear? Also, some people, once enfranchised, will surely seek independence. Delete this entire scene.

“Why, it's like nirvana / whenever I curse my master behind his back!”
Slave to Pluto, 65

Putin
Spoken like a true member of the patriotic opposition. Ridicule us behind our back, but show us fear and obedience where it counts. I like his attitude.
Erdogan
I find it bizarre that you do, Vladdie. Showing irreverence to your legitimate autocratic rulers, even if behind their backs, is no less subversive than public dissidence. After all, there is really no patriotic opposition. The leader is right even when he’s not, and his person is sacred even if he behaved in a profane manner. Either this or chaos.
Putin
You know what’s your problem Erdo baby? You lack a sense of humor. You should go shirtless in public more often, that should help you relax a little, and learn how to take yourself less seriously.
Erdogan
I prefer to take Aristophanes more seriously. Now, let’s focus. The play is almost done, and it’s about time. Too long for a comedy if you ask me. Especially a Greek one.


But the poet has a special duty to conceal / what's wicked, / not to stage it or teach it.
Aeschylus, 82

Putin
Tell that to the Pussy Riots girls. They’re busy scandalizing me all over the place.
Erdogan
Now Vladdie, where s your sense of humor.
Putin
Fuck you! And watch me kick your ass in Syria, you pig.
Erdogan
So much for yours sense of humor. As for the play, I wouldn’t give it more than is three guillotines and a khazouq (impalement pole). The gift of comedy is not a gift the Greeks should carry anyway.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Oedipus Rex: The New Russo-Syrian Version

Starring Vladimir Putin as Oedipus and Sergey Lavrov as Tiresias

The illustrious Syrian actress Muna Wassef, or as I grew up calling her, Mom, plays Jocasta in Sophocles Oedipus Rex, Al-Hamrah Theater, Damascus – early 1970s. This may not have been the first play that I watched but that image of Mom is indelibly imprinted on my mind. She’ll always be my queen, Freudian implications be damned.


Oedipus
Let me see if I got this right, Tiresias. You’re saying that I have, unwittingly, killed my father and married my mother, and since, according to that famous Syrian proverb, anyone who marries my mother becomes my uncle, I am now my own uncle… is that it?
Tiresias
Well, eh, to an extent, yes, but…
Oedipus
So, I don’t have a father, and my mother is my wife, so I shouldn’t really be listening to her, and am my own uncle,  doesn’t that imply that, in a traditional sense, no one really lords over me.
Tiresias
Well, yeah, except for the gods of course, for whom I happen to speak.
Oedipus
Indeed, but then, I can always accuse you of being mad when you say things I don’t like.
Tiresias
True. But, to paraphrase good old Sophocles: to throw away a sycophant friend is, as it were, to throw your life away.
Oedipus
Still, I am free. Really, really free.
Tiresias
I am not really sure if you’re getting the point of it all…
Oedipus
What’s not get? The road to freedom, to becoming masters of your own fate, is really quite clear: kill your fathers, fuck your mothers, become your own uncles, and accuse the gods’ self-appointed spokesghouls of being mad when they say things you don’t like. Now, I might have unwittingly gone about it all too literally. The more practical way might call for doing this by proxy: kill other people’s fathers and fuck their mothers, etc. Other than that, Sophocles is right: chance rules our lives, and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day. This way, I will not suffer either in reality, or in retrospect.  
Tiresias
I withdraw my earlier assessment my Lord. By Dionysus, hell, by Freud himself, I think you’ve got it.
© Ammar Abdulhamid 2016

Orson Wells, as Oedipus Rex, 1967