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Show Reviews & Social Media

- Broadway Baby

What do you do when your husband decides to take another wife? Well, if you live in Saudi Arabia, where men are legally permitted up to four wives, there’s not much you can do. It is, you see, one of the social responsibilities the kingdom’s men are charged with; single and divorced women must be married to avoid immorality. Maisah Sobaihi’s solo show Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia is full of such insightful revelations about her homeland. Using a couple of different female personae, the academic from Jeddah wittily illustrates how those who happen to be born women live and love in a society where men make the decisions.

Returning to the question above, Maryam’s reaction is desperate and unsurprising. She tries to subvert her husband’s serious conversation on the topic into a joke until she realises how determined he is. Then she turns to trying to find other, alternative social responsibilities which he could try instead, like road safety. Layla, on the other hand, is divorced and in need of some male attention. She opts for a type of secret marriage, where husband and wife live separately, seeing each other only when it is convenient (for the man). In theory, such an arrangement is mutually beneficial.

Sobaihi’s style is charismatic and engaging, quickly winning over the audience with her funny impressions of Layla’s excitement after her Parisian shopping trip with her new hubby and Maryam’s cunning intelligence gathering about the second wife. She pulls people up to join her dancing at a Saudi wedding, evidently enjoying being able to share something of her often-misunderstood culture. This extends to language as well; Sobaihi made sure to include plenty of curses and outbursts in Arabic, which did suggest authenticity but also disrupted the flow of the stories. As a non-Arabic speaker I sometimes struggled to guess the meaning of what had been said.

Part documentary, part storytelling, Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia is a wonderfully comical and enlightening window onto life in the kingdom. Saudi women may live in a society which looks radically different, but Sobaihi’s stories show us that beneath it all, we’re all much the same. The search for true love is something we can all relate to.

- Scotsman

Maisah Sabahi is an actor and director who claims to be Saudi Arabia’s only female stand-up comic. This is not a stand-up show, but a theatre piece giving us an interesting take on the lives of rich Saudi women.

Her focus is love and marriage – explored through the lives of several different women. One is a rich woman whose husband has decided to take another wife; another is a teacher in a temporary marriage with a wealthy man.

But some of her humour seems to lose something in translation; and it is difficult to know how pertinent her observations are when she is talking about such a different world. A routine on how to talk to your driver may play well in wealthy Riyadh but it has different connotations here.

She’s an engaging performer, elegant, beautiful and softly-spoken, wearing a headdress and tunic over jeans and high heels. You get the sense that just by standing up on stage Sabahi is doing something radical in terms of her culture. It would be good to know more about why she decided to take this route and what she hopes to achieve.

Maisah Sobaihi

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia

Sun 11th - Mon 26th August
5.50pm (1hr 15mins)

From Saudi Arabia

What do women in Saudi Arabia do when their husband decides on wife number two?

Do they fight or flee?

What's life like for the second wife? How long is too long to wait for Mr Prince Charming to come galloping on his horse?

In Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia one woman takes you on a journey to playfully explore the lives of three women.

Prepare to laugh as she bravely addresses many of the sensitive topics related to these experiences and unveils what really goes on...

Performer's website


£8.50 (£7.50 conc)
Suitable for 16+ years

Group discount: 10% off for groups of 10+

Friends of Fringe: 2 for 1 anytime – only available from Fringe Box Office

Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall
Venue 278. 22 Hanover Street. EH2 2EP

Just up from National Gallery. Venue Box Office: 0131 220 5911

Click here for map of the venue

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