A group of almost-over-the-hill urban Egyptian hipsters gathers every night on a Cairo houseboat where they smoke weed, gab on their cell phones, and rag on everything they think is messing up their lives. Led by their master of ceremonies, a near catatonic petty bureaucrat named Anis, they get baked and try to forget that secularists like them are being shunted to the sidelines in the wave of alleged ?fundamentalist” Islamic politics sweeping Egypt and much of the Arab world.
When Samara, a young Islamic journalist joins the group, however, Anis’s spell is broken. From the moment he sees this hijab-clad woman, he starts to remember the ugly journey that brought him to his almost total detachment from the harsh realities of the outside world. Threatened by this incursion into their long-established sanctuary, his buddies try to drive Samara away. But Anis resists. He has fallen in love. Unfortunately for him, however, this seemingly devout journalist also has a couple of secrets of her own.
While Adrift begins as a stoners’ drawing-room comedy, it ends in random, chaotic tragedy?by the end of the play the Nile River houseboat feels like it’s been transplanted to flood-ravaged New Orleans. It is a play about the tragedy of the innocents caught between the Holy Wars of our twenty-first century.
Inspired by the novel Adrift on the Nile by Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Adrift is set against the backdrop of the US war on Iraq and a region burdened by the gorgon-head legacies of colonialism, corruption and violent dictatorship. It is about a group of people at the epicentre of conflict between the West’s ever-accelerating and utterly ahistorical imperial culture, and its doppelgänger: the tide of religious fundamentalism that is growing ever more powerful in its wake.
Cast of 4 women and 6 men.
Writer and performer Marcus Youssef is a regular contributor of drama, commentary and documentary to numerous programs on the CBC network. He also writes regularly for publications such as Vancouver Magazine, Georgia Straight, Rice Paper, and This Magazine. For many years, Youssef has also dedicated himself to numerous community-based advocacy programs that aim at using writing and/or theatre as a tool for procuring political and social change.
“…a minor miracle not merely of adaptation but of historical translation too. Adrift highlights the way we suffer the same losses over and over again, raining revenge on revenge. Our struggle, in essence, never changes.”
— Globe and Mail