This article investigates the pivotal cultural and socio-political issues
affecting Egyptian society that ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Kamāl, a young Egyptian
scriptwriter, represents in his television series Dahsha (Perplexity, 2014).
This Ṣaʿīdī (Upper Egyptian) adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear
raises issues including widespread and grinding poverty, the
marginalization of women, the stigma attached to illegitimate children,
and the continuing dependence upon patriarchal leadership, with Egypt’s
2011 revolution hovering in the background. Kamāl’s divergences from
Shakespeare’s play in terms of characterization and plot create a different,
culturally oriented interpretation of Lear. The article also examines the
effects of transposing Lear from the stage into a different medium – the
television screen. Finally, it distinguishes between the two literary
concepts of ‘adaptation’ and ‘proximization’ by analysing how Egyptian
audiences and critics responded to the series.