Beirut: My Heaven, My Hell

For evacuees from Ghouta ‘hell’, Syria’s Idlib like ‘heaven’
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The grid of bars makes for a dizzying abstraction of the glittering spider's web that will serve as the night's recurring symbol for an intractable destiny. Molina, the window dresser and one of the cell's two inhabitants, professes no interest in politics whatsoever. A morals charge has landed him in jail, and keeping up the semblance of a festive appearance consumes all his energy and his fast-dwindling pride. However, Valentin, his straight cellmate Anthony Crivello, giving the musical a third blazing performance , is a Marxist firebrand.

The authorities view him as a crucial link to a secret terrorist organization. If he can't be broken, perhaps he can be tricked into naming names, which is how Molina, seemingly the most pliable of creatures, figures into their perverse schemes. In that, it is not so far removed from Frank McGuinness's drama around the corner, "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me," which chronicles the games devised by three hostages in Beirut to outwit their captors.

Like Mr.

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McGuinness's characters, too, Molina blanks out the sordid present by rerunning movies in his head and projecting himself into the exotic worlds of Aurora, the film goddess he's worshiped since childhood. Her portrayal of the treacherous Spider Woman, whose kiss brings instant death to stouthearted men, is one he'd rather put out of his mind, but otherwise he can usually mine her celluloid repertory for lush and glamorous scenes to subvert the here and now. There, right in the center, dressed in canary-yellow feathers or satin tails and a rakish fedora, is Ms.

Rivera -- asking impudently: "Why must you be where you are? View all New York Times newsletters.

As far back as "Cabaret," the Kander-Ebb-Prince trio has appreciated the vitality and raw nerve to be found in the sleazier forms of show business. The appreciation continues, but with a change. The raucous cabaret songs that Joel Grey and the girls in garters and fish-net hose barked out to the customers of the Kit Kat Klub had a bitterly ironic purpose -- marking the progressive moral decline of Germany before World War II. Here, Aurora's gaudy, strutting numbers are a way out of hell, not into it; a tinseled lifeline to sanity, salvation for the damned.

While Ms. Rivera is galvanizing the foreground, in fact, you can see Mr.

Flowers in war are a kind of beautiful obscenity, an attempt to create Paradise in Hell

Buy Beirut: My Heaven, My Hell: Read Books Reviews - 'We came from hell, but we came to heaven, ' an exhausted-but-exhilarated Nawal Torbey said as she emerged into the arrivals lounge at.

Carver in a corner of the cell, imitating her stance, mouthing her words, wrapping himself in her gestures. His hollow face registers something close to rapture. The closed eyes have, for a while at least, managed to close out the horrors of his condition. And you realize that this willowy creature with badly bleached hair and doughy skin has a special strength in him, the power to refashion reality -- which is also the theater's power. The silly petulance he displays at the outset grows steadily and, yes, thrillingly, into a magnificent willfulness by the end.

Based on Manuel Puig's novel, which in turn inspired the film, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" refuses to soft-pedal any of the grimness. The sight of prisoners reeling under torture or writhing with diarrhea on a musical stage will, no doubt, take some spectators aback. Amazingly, though, the show never succumbs to the squalor and violence. The set designer Jerome Sirlin throws colored projections on hard steel, immediately softening it.

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The costumer Florence Klotz deftly enhances rags with glitz, while the choreographers Vincent Paterson and Rob Marshall find sparks of rebelliousness in tawdry nightclub routines. Time and again, "Kiss of the Spider Woman" is saved by its defiant theatricality. Only when the musical occupies itself with secondary characters -- Molina's mother, Valentin's girlfriend, a waiter Molina loved from afar -- does the score tend to the conventional, partly because it is being put to more conventional uses. I'd just as soon overlook a giddy morphine-induced fantasy that unfolds in the prison infirmary; the number temporarily causes the show to lose its dignity without producing much compensatory humor.

And Mr.

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Prince may be indulging in overkill in "The Day After That," a stirring anthem about the freedom that cannot be forever postponed. A near-immobile Mr. Crivello sings it at the top of the second act, and the clarity of his voice and the purity of his conviction are breathtaking. Does the director really need to bring on a chorus of stalwart protesters, holding up portraits of their relatives who have disappeared mysteriously into the violent night?

Still, the evening's miscalculations are few, and they are swept away by the finale, which is entitled "Only in the Movies," but which really could happen only in a theater.

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Cruelly manipulated by the authorities who have no further interest in him, physically shattered by their truncheons, Molina summons up his last and greatest escape -- Aurora in her guise as the Spider Woman. The prison immediately vanishes, supplanted by the auditorium of a provincial movie house. All the characters in Molina's past are taking their places in the red velvet seats to watch him dance a tumultuous tango with death herself. There is something undeniably triumphant about Mr.

Carver emerging from the background in a white tuxedo to meet Ms. Rivera on her own turf. He moves strappingly and angularly, this metamorphosed window dresser, and looms larger than he ever did in his sorry life. The child was reportedly facing pressures at home, especially by his father who had allegedly threatened him with murder if he didn't pass the exams.

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Lebanon In Lyrics: 12 Times Our Country Has Been Mentioned In Music

Suzanne M. The thought of an injury through an explosion of a bomb, open skin, blood, paralysis, pain, kept on recurring. After an austere conversation: Tony came from a photo shooting. It was too exciting. Suspect in school drifting accident arrested. Seeing us dancing with death, he jumped in his car, reversed through the pack of dogs and stopped at our side. In a typical journey, hellos and thank yous in Arabic, English, French and other languages, and in myriad accents and forms, fly around with naturalized ease, while maintaining a common ground for simple conversation is often a culturalized struggle.

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