*No spoilers ahead. You can read safely.

Yesterday I watched “Bel nessbeh la boukra shoo” on big screen. I never had the chance to “listen” to it earlier so I was really excited and somehow perplex if it really adheres to its fame.

I was never a hardcore fan of Ziad. Just an objective one that highly estimated his work besides a few things. And God what could I say after watching the Play! One word could really describe the man “Genius”.

First we really need to acknowledge the work done by the production team. The idea of re-assembling the play from bits, remaster it and put it on the big screen is pure awesomeness. Apart from the bright money-making business idea, it’s a commendable “memory preserving” act. Hope it will create a business line of remastering all of Lebanon’s vintage artistic works, whether TV series, movies or theatrical plays and present them again to a newer audience that didn’t get the chance to enjoy them previously. I can think of thousands or artworks that could really use a technical makeover. These works are in a way the memory of Lebanon and should be preserved for future generations.

Pity that we do not have a cultural organization similar to the US library of congress which one of its many missions is to gather and preserve American-made material of human value whether, literature, print, audio, video ..etc.

Back to the Play. Technically what was achieved is top-notch. Picture quality is as good as it gets, given that it was gathered form an original super-8 format, which is fully obsolete these days. Audio on the other hand is very well remastered. Of course it’s not a Dolby Surround or THX, but very good given the challenges.

As for the Play substance, this is where we can appreciate Ziad in his full shot. He basically dominates the game by his on-stage presence and by the intrigue he created. Smooth and rather very daring story for a 1978 theater presentation. It’s great that they could overcome the censor departments of the days. The foul language, at times, adds to the authenticity of the scenes. The playact from beginning to end is charming, hysterical at times and, as it should be expected, has a climatic sad ending.

Since behind the comedic storyline, Ziad was deriding a miserable situation that was and unfortunately is still prevailing in Lebanon until our days. Behind the laughs there is torment & pain.

We can also praise the strong acting skills of all the cast, both with minor or large roles. Nevertheless one can duly focus on the masterful enactment of singer Joseph Sakr. His performance of the 3 unforgettable songs of “Essma3 ya Rida”, “3a hadir el–bosta” & “3aysha wa7da balak” (all written and composed by Ziad) is such memorable.

Who can believe that Ziad was just 22 years when he wrote and directed this play? No one!

Unless you are willing to believe that Ziad Rahbani is one crazy genius!

Zorro!