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The most prominent feature on the Metro al-Madina stage this evening is a low wall, downstage.Rising from behind the wall, Maryam Saleh has donned an exaggerated-looking black top hat – the sort of thing an animated character from a Tim Burton film might wear.Resplendent in black-and-white clown face, the vocalist begins a song that most audience members recognize as "Kiko," a chirpy little tune about a pet bird by Egyptian musical giant Sayed Darwish (1892-1923). There's nothing at all chirpy in the way Saleh warbles through these lyrics, however. During the show's opening tune, Darwish's "The Devil's Song," the screen reflected an animated video of three vaguely human rod puppets.The centerpiece of the show is Saleh.Saleh notes that Darwish's work remains relevant to contemporary audiences, but she credits Jaber with programming a playlist of songs whose themes and lyrics resonate in the 21st-century Arab consciousness.
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