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Produced in Cairo in April, 2001, Doditello presents a campy Othello-quoting version of the relationship between the late Princess Diana and her last companion, Egyptian businessman Dodi al-Fayed. Mahran’s Diana is vulgar and overbearing. Dodi appears lazy, grasping, and opportunistic. The central characters are Queen Elizabeth II (in an over-the-top drag performance by the male actor Hamada Shousha), who connives to break up the couple, and her security chief. There is also a trio of Islamist conspirators who can’t decide whether Dodi is betraying the Arabs by miscegenation or avenging them by reverse-colonizing a Brit; and a misshapen royal advisor named Shakesy, produced through a cloning error, who is half Shakespeare and half sheep (in a reference to the cloned sheep Dolly). The latter-day Queen Elizabeth orders her staff to clone Shakespeare so that he can break up the Dodi-Diana couple just as he did Othello and Desdemona. Shakesy tries to do this by making the pair perform the murder scene from Othello as a play-within-a-play for the court. But the security chief tips them off to the stratagem, and they foil it by rewriting the script in folksy Egyptian style; Dodi/Othello gives Diana/Didimona a one-night reprieve so she can serve him some stuffed pigeons she has cooked. They die anyway, offstage, in the famous car accident.
Doditello is pessimistic about Arab-West relations and ambivalent about Shakespeare. Both the literal revival of Shakespeare and the subversive rewriting of his Othello prove irrelevant to the play’s outcome. Ultimately, both science and art are subject to the crude fact of British economic power. This is brought home in the epilogue, where Dodi’s ghost appears to his father at the Harrod’s store, their lines echoing and reversing the Ghost scene in Hamlet, to say his death was no accident at all. The son’s ghost instructs the old man to seek not revenge – but British citizenship.
Author: Dr. Sameh Mahran (Egyptian)
See Dr. Nehad Selaiha’s review in Al-Ahram Weekly.