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Review of Maria Shehata: Hero at Edinburgh Fringe

Maria Shehata: Hero
Maria Shehata: Hero

There’s something subversive about Maria Shehata taking phone calls from her father whilst her show is in progress, and I get the feeling that the people most likely to be irritated by this are people who themselves use their phones whilst a performance is in progress. The irony was not lost on the rest of us. There are pleasant introductions, on both sides, before the show proper gets underway. Much of the focus is on family ties – Shehata now lives in London, having previously being domiciled in Los Angeles, though she has Egyptian roots, and is a Coptic Christian.

There are some interesting observations about Egyptian social mores and attitudes, which by Western standards are somewhat outdated. Shehata’s folks can’t understand why she hasn’t settled down yet with a man with a good job and started a family. She has several reasons, as it happens, all of which are understandable to an unassuming Edinburgh Fringe audience, though I had no idea about the severity of the priest’s instructions to the bride during a Coptic ceremony, which include, with reference to the husband, “Do not frown in his face.”

Shehata has a very warm stage presence, and it wasn’t long before I felt as though I might as well be a dinner guest at her place, wherever that may be – for various reasons, she keeps having to move house, to the point where she legitimately claims familiarity with other regulars on a website where places to stay are advertised. Her stories of ridiculous landlords are hilarious to listen to – which sounds heartless until one realises that she really is better off now she lives elsewhere.

There’s another phone call that comes through, but this is blithely ignored, either because it’s someone other than her father, or simply because a third interruption to the narrative really is excessive. Her career choice does not exactly have the seal of approval from her family, either, who would much prefer she went into law or medicine rather than entertainment. The challenge is to be one’s own hero rather than rely on a significant other, whether or not this is satisfactory for her traditionalist folks. A good-natured and gregarious show.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

After her transatlantic move for love fell apart (embarrassingly quickly), Maria found herself starting over with two trash bags of stuff and a £10k credit card bill. Her new housemate is an angry 83-year-old who never quite
remembers who she is and her parents incessantly ask when she’s going to find someone to take care of her. This is
the hilarious story of Maria’s attempt to be her own hero as she makes a home for herself in the UK.

LISTINGS INFORMATION:
VENUE: Bottom, Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market (venue 98), 179a Gladstone Court, EH8 8BN
DATES: Wednesday 31st July – Sunday 25th August (except Tuesday 13th August)
TIME: 5:15pm (1hr)
https://www.edfringe.com/

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