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.
Noha Mohamad Mohamad Ibraheem is Assistant Lecturer in the English Department, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University, Egypt. She is the author of ‘Belated’ Shakespearean Mosaics: ‘Shakespeare Malikan’, ‘Mutabilitie’, and ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (Lambert, 2014) and a contributor to The Cambridge World Encyclopaedia of Stage Actors and Actresses (Cambridge, 2015). She holds an MA in drama and comparative literature from Cairo University and is currently based in Germany.