Netflix’s first Kuwaiti series The cage unravels the thorns and roses of married life in a comedy that has clear influences from the theatrical history of the Gulf country.
The comedy-drama was released on the streaming platform on Friday. It tells the story of a family counselor working with a couple to help them communicate better and empathize in an effort to save their marriage. However, as the counselor helps them rekindle their relationship, he faces difficulties in his personal life.
On paper, the premise seems heavy, but with a line-up of famous Kuwaiti actors, most of whom have a theatrical background, the show is steeped in the drama and slapstick of Kuwaiti theater, like that seen in the play. Goodbye London.
“The general concept of The cage is simple,” said series producer Abdullah Boushahri The National. “The show is about the relationship of a married couple who sees a marriage counselor. But it contains a host of issues and complexities that will resonate universally. The show is fun and lighthearted, and you can watch all eight episodes together. after the others.
Boushahri says the concept of relationship counseling is still relatively new in the region.
“As a society, we need to talk more about our relationships and our marriages,” he says. “The cage is a mirror to see ourselves and laugh at the problems we go through. But also push people to appreciate the good times and not focus on the negative. The show is, after all, about a couple who are at an impasse, on the verge of divorce, and struggling to remember the basics of their relationship.
The show moves back and forth in time as the couple tell the counselor how they met and got married. The flashback scenes are filled with nostalgic elements that are happily reminiscent of pre-social media romances in the area.
Director Jasem AlMuhanna said the fashion and pop culture of Kuwait in the 1980s and 1990s was a definite visual inspiration for scenes from the past.
“Fashion, cars, events on television at the time all influenced the approach,” he says.
By alternating between handheld cameras and more steady shots, AlMuhanna says he also wanted to visually differentiate the tension between the couple and the romance of their past.
According to AlMuhanna and Boushahri, one of the most difficult aspects was finding the right talent to take on the role of advisor as well as the married couple.
“We have several great Kuwaiti talents who could have played these roles perfectly,” says AlMuhanna. “We also had many conversations about how old the adviser should be, whether he should be older because he represents wisdom or younger so he can keep up with the whole show.”
The showrunners have found a balance with Khaled Ameen. The Kuwaiti actor takes on the role of the tasteful and patient relationship counselor who tries to mediate the couple’s issues and remind them of what made them fall in love in the first place. While encouraging openness and transparency towards his patients, the adviser nevertheless dug his own feelings with those around him.
AlMuhanna says the team initially considered older actors such as Mohammed Al-Mansor to play the adviser. The flagship Kuwaiti actor, 74, would have been physically how the team envisioned the character, but when they brought in Ameen for the role, AlMuhanna says it was clear he was right.
“We wanted to ask the question why we don’t talk about our relationship issues,” says AlMuhanna. “It became clear that the age of the counselor didn’t matter as long as they were professional and had good morale.”
For the lead couple, Hussain AlMahdi and Rawan Mahdi were selected, in part because of their contrasting acting backgrounds. While the two have starred in several Kuwaiti productions on stage and screen, Mahdi is famous for his dramatic roles, in contrast to AlMahdi’s penchant for comedy. The pairing was perfect for the comedy-drama, says AlMuhanna.
Although it’s a Kuwaiti show, says Boushahri The cage has many themes that will hopefully make it universally appealing.
“These are not matters exclusive to Kuwait or the Gulf and Arab world,” he says. “These are times that every couple experiences. There are beautiful moments but also ups and downs. In the show, we portray it in a different way away from the heaviness of the issues and instead we let’s show them in a light way.
Updated: September 25, 2022, 8:00 a.m.