Ahmed El Attar The Last Supper


An upper middle-class Cairo family gathers around the table for a family dinner. There is the father, smoking his cigar, the conspicuously absent mother, their son and his wife, their children, their daughter and her husband, the general, a close family friend, and three servants. As in a Chekhov play, they indulge in small talk, rapidly get on each other’s nerves, argue and then calm down, before growing bored and killing time. Through their conversations, the author and director, Ahmed El Attar, sets out to describe the profoundly vacuous existence of his country’s economic elite. This ruling class, previously highly cultured but now inward-looking and incapable of thinking beyond its own needs, is depicted as being futile, authoritarian, greedy and contemptuous, domineering and resistant to change of any kind. The Last Supper draws up a picture of a society unable to put an end to the archetypal figure of the father, represented by the Egyptian presidents - from Moubarak to al-Sissi. In contrast to his performance of The Importance of Being an Arab, in which Ahmed El Attar spoke of the revolution and current events in Egypt by drawing upon his personal documents - in this instance, his private telephone conversations which he recorded -, The Last Supper marks a return to theatre writing, nourished by the organic cohesion of his thirteen actors. Via this intimate portrayal of family life, Ahmed El Attar delves deep into the very fundaments of Egyptian society. What we find is a class-led society, characterized by its hegemony of despotic father-figures and the silent domination of a nation plunged into misery.