Nelida Nassar 01.29.2014
Rima is a funny and insightful one-woman show peopled with hilarious characters. Rozy Yazigi, alias Rima, is an actress auditioning for a position under the watchful gaze of a director who asks her to perform different theatrical roles in various styles. Her story unfolds as a courageous memoir, moving and beautifully paced. Yazigi inhabits with gusto over a dozen roles: the director, the teacher, the daughter, the mother, the wife, the husband, the maid, the child, the students, the teaching colleagues, the health club coach, the obsessed weight-loss freak, the mean gossip and several other characters easily recognizable to anyone familiar with Lebanese society. Enlightening and fun to watch,
Yazigi morphs from individual to individual and from gender to gender with grace and ease. She bounces from moments of elation and triumph to moments of depression, each rendered on a red and blue-lit stage, which is almost empty except for an old-fashioned, black leather dentist’s chair that hints at countless similar stories which remain untold.
The audience is entranced as Yazigi zigzags her way through the many different depictions and the three different languages – Arabic, French and English – she employs to tell her life story. Yazigi’s creative mind playfully guides her body through all 74 minutes of compelling portrayed revelations. She casts a spell as well as being a cast of characters herself. She nails not only accents and postures, but also the personalities of each of her characters, all the while interjecting refreshing doses of humor, sarcasm even compassion, and creating a rich and wry reductio ad absurdum. She surpises with her big and beautiful voice — as in her renditions of Asmahan’s Ya Aashiq al Ward (The lover of Roses) and Edith Piaf’s La Fille de Joie est Triste — when it’s least expected, and crawls, capers, and strides about the stage with unstoppable élan.
This one-woman tour de force blasts through our often unconscious misconceptions of gender with honesty, wit, and an energetic exploration of life’s vicissitudes. Anyone would be enticed by its vernacular, local themes as well as by Yazigi’s effortless impressions of the many personas she assembles from Lebanon’s social scene. An appealing and nimble-witted performer, she showcases her versatility while chronicling her own journey toward self-knowledge as a kind of wide-eyed Alice-in-Lebanonland. This show, at once intimate, daring, and playful, is also full of humor, sadness, anger, and intellectual challenges.
The frank depiction and fine character analysis of these Lebanese women and men helps us to laugh at ourselves and our little community, notwithstanding the play’s tragic final moments of loss: husband, maid and child die in an accident, and Yazigi is left alone to mourn them all. In the end, Yazigi leaves the audiences with a fresh array of insights into profoundly human issues.
Dramatist Joe Kodeih shows himself to be a stimulating writer, both sincere and entertaining. He’s done a marvelous job with Rima’s multitude of characters. What an entertaining night at the theatre awaits you is evident from the roars of the audience, which is utterly captivated by Rima’s romps. True value indeed!
Rima is performed at Theatre Gemmayze located at Sacre Coeur School, Gemmayze, Beirut
January 16 until February 16, 2014 — 8.30 p.m.