I should say, "landmark" does not mean it's great theatre. Critic Hani Shukrallah memorably summed it up in a 2001 column about Sobhi on the occasion of the latter's controversial (and awful) Ramadan mini-series dramatizing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Meanwhile, we are supposed to look forward to Egyptian "character actor" Mohamed Sobhi performing no less than 14 roles in a TV serial dramatising the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which apparently has had millions spent on it and is to be broadcast in many parts of our glorious Arab nation. The casting is apt. Sobhi is symptomatic of "the state of the nation" -- or is it civilisation? Several years ago I had to suffer through a Hamlet performed by this man, hailed as one of our great actors. I'm no drama critic, but even I could recognise that Sobhi's acting skills seem to lie precisely in "saw[ing] the air too much with... [his] hands" and "tear[ing] a passion to tatters." Little wonder, perhaps, that he is so well admired; tearing a passion to tatters seems to be a particular predilection of "our civilisation" these days.
Later I'll try to comment on particular scenes, either here or in the metadata on the Global Shakespeares web site. Meanwhile, I just wanted to tell the story of how I obtained this video.
Sobhi has, in case you didn't notice from the quote above (he played all the parts in his own miniseries!), a certain sense of his own importance. And Egyptian society has rewarded this attitude with all kinds of celebrity and adulation. When I made a trip to Cairo in 2007 while working on my book, a theatre scholar friend managed to find me Sobhi's cell phone number. Someone else tried to give me Sobhi's number too, but it was incorrect. Anyway I called and made an appointment to meet and talk about his Hamlet. But he wasn't in Cairo. He had built himself a studio complex way out in the desert along the Cairo-Alexandria road. He had called it Sonbol City for the Arts, after a character in one of his films. Okay. I hired a car-and-driver and made the trek. It was about an hour and a half.
in the film... he looked a little better than this.)
I could, but stupidly I somehow spent the whole day calling the incorrect cell phone number. When I finally called the right one towards evening, it was too late -- he was already back at Sonbol. But he had taken the VHS tape with him. Could I come pick it up?
Fortunately, the driver remembered the location and was able to go without me. He picked up the tape and brought it back to Cairo. Then he nearly refused to accept money, so thrilled was he to be able to meet the great actor in person, to actually shake Mohamed Sobhi's hand. Back in the US, I had it converted to a DVD, and now the good people at Global Shakespeares have posted it online for your delectation. Enjoy!