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This year’s run of Love’s End Spectacularly Shattered all Our Expectations

This year’s run of Love’s End Spectacularly Shattered all Our Expectations
    written by
    Salma Sabek

    When was the last time that you experienced genuine, unfiltered emotion? Delve into the raw and unashamed world of live theatre to explore the ugliest parts of love, Love’s End (Cloture de l’Amour) is playing till the 21st in Rawabet Art Space, and it is not to be missed!

    In a large white room, two actors, played by Muhammad Hatem and Nanda Mohammad, end their love story on stage. They talk about their separation and mourn the end of their love.

    Written and directed by Frenchman Pascal Rambert with the assistance of the two actors, Love’s End is a dual performance presented in two monologues. The two characters stand on opposite ends of this daunting space near the exits, with what feels like miles of white floor separating them, symbolising the distance they’ll have to cross to mend their broken bond. As the two actors inch back and forth from their respective exits, it becomes clear that it is much easier just to let go of whatever is tying them together. The play is brilliantly translated from the original by Shadi El-Housseiny as he embraces and transforms the original text as accurately as the language barrier permits into something that is deceptively Egyptian. The sentences uttered by the actors are powerful, still relevant ten years later and set in a completely different culture, which is an impressive feat since a huge portion of the text is a commentary on language and linguistic elements.

    As the first of the two performances takes place, we are transfixed by the raw emotion in the ebb and flow of Hatem’s words, flung brutally at his soon-to-be ex-lover. His monologue is sure yet doubtful; his voice cracks in the air as he angrily declares his refusal to continue in this charade of a relationship but repeatedly falters as he recalls everything he used to love and admire about her. Hatem perfectly sets the tone for the scene like a boxing match. His punches are equally aggressive and incredibly intimate. The language he uses is physical and explores his lover’s every crack. As he throws in the final blow and announces that he is done, all eyes are on the brutalised woman in the corner of the room. We are all both fearing and anticipating the role she plays in this match. After a short intermission presented by the interruption of a kid choir needing the stage for their scheduled rehearsal, roles are reversed, and Nanda takes Hatem’s place to start her view.

    Hatem’s soliloquy is a tough act to follow, especially with how direct it was, but Nanda doesn’t disappoint one bit. Any punch flung her way, she twists and turns back on her aggressor, admonishes him for every misconstrued word, and breaks down the linguistic barrier he built between them. Nanda’s verbal presentation bursts from her body in ruptures of varying sizes, at times reminiscent of the legendary late Shwikar’s iconic My Fair Lady performance. She shatters every image Hatem had just spent long minutes creating in our minds into a million pieces using her glaring eyes, strong vocals, and fluidly expressive face. The character blames him for pushing her to such extremes in language, for making this decision on his own and for calling what they had an illusion. But, at some point amidst the onslaught, this vulgar explosion turns into a slow retelling of happy memories. She glides towards Hatem, perfectly delivering an ode to the shared happiness she will keep for herself forever, and, for that small moment in time, we are filled with hope for the unhappy couple, which is abruptly squashed as Nanda retreats swiftly back to her corner. The match was set from the beginning; the male lover made a decision that wasn’t just his to make, and the play ends just as abruptly as it starts.

    The language is often repetitive to trap you in its meaning and force you to face its consequences. The performances are as physical as they are verbal, with both actors eloquently using the space and their bodies to pace, kneel, and even, on occasion, fling themselves at each other. The play succeeds in harshly exposing us to the shattered illusion of love and its hidden ugliness, things we wish we would never have to witness.

    You can attend the play every day at 8:00 PM from the 17th of November to the 21st of November by booking through this link.