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"Wahsheh," the new one-man show of playwright, actor, and director Rafic Ali Ahmad, is based on the life of a homeless man he often sees on Bliss Street. To a capacity house at Theatre Monnot, he presents himself as Abu Michel. That's what people call him, he says, quickly adding that it isn't important whether his name is "Mohammad, Georges, Semaan, Ali or Uthman". He may be homeless but Abu Michel isn't intellectually impoverished, speaking French and English and being well versed in the work of Dostoevsky and Foucault – though perhaps not de Beauvoir or Lorde. Ascribed to Abou Michel, Ali Ahmad's monologue illustrates his views of Beirut and sectarianism, generational differences, public displays of piety and financial opportunism, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism (but not charity or civic duty), the sexual appetite of men in office and, most disappointingly, his own misogyny, which is expressed as comedy. Abu Michel also introduces "the real estate hajj," a powerful but hypocritical figure on the Lebanese cultural landscape.Ali Ahmad seeks to subvert hypocritical men in power by undermining their gravitas.Obviously Abu Michel's mockery of men who derive pleasure from submitting to Afaf betrays old-fashioned patriarchal notions of "manhood".Aside from Afaf, there are, for Abu Michel, no good women.
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