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Theatre / Kismet

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May your taxes increase!
Kismet is a three-act play written in 1911, about a beggar who pretends to be a sorcerer for one day... long enough for him to get lots of money, be promoted to the nobility, and win the hand of the villain's clever wife, Lalume. It also happens to be the same day that his daughter, Marsinah, meets and falls in love with the handsome Caliph. In 1953 it was made into a musical, using the (VERY altered!) music of Borodin (most notably, the Polovetsian Dances), with original lyrics.

There are several film adaptations, the most famous being the 1944 play version starring Marlene Dietrich and Ronald Colman, and the 1955 musical version with Howard Keel and Dolores Grey.

This show features examples of:

  • Aside Glance: "I want to take you to the Harem." POET: (glance) "Must I?"
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Those slave girls may look gorgeous, but they can't carry a litter.
  • Badass Boast: Consciously done, when the Poet is pretending to be a summoner. "I'm calling on my powers!"
  • Bawdy Song: Especially the way Dolores Gray sings 'em.
  • Becoming the Mask: The Poet goes from trying to convince people that he's not a wizard, to enjoying the pretense, to believing it... in the space of about an hour.
  • Berserk Button: The poet snaps only when the Wazir threatens Marsinah. Threatening to cut his hands off just got him to sing.
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  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Poet seems quite amiable. He's also capable of holding a man underwater until he drowns, while casually talking to the Caliph.
  • Catchphrase: "Faaaate..."
  • Distracted by the Luxury:
    • Marsinah stops caring where her father got the gold as soon as he buys her a new outfit.
    • Subverted by Lalume, "I would like my husband to think that it was his harem that enticed you to remain here..."
  • Distant Duet: "And This is my Beloved"
  • Double Entendre: Pick any conversation between the Poet and Lalume. Or any song. Also, the Poet singing a love song to his hand in a song called "Gesticulate"...
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": In the musical version, the lead character is simply credited as "Poet", and the only name he's called by is Hajj, which is a stolen identity.
  • Good Is Not Soft:
    • The Caliph. When the Poet asked what he would do if he someone lied to him and as a result, his love was lost. His answer "I would order his death without delay and without mercy."
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    • In "Not Since Nineveh", while Lalume is comparing Baghdad to various Biblical cities, she lists "Not since that village near Gomorrah got too hot for Lot!". Given what everyone assumes the Sin of Sodom was, it doesn't seem to be a coincidence that it isn't explicitly named. And let's not even go into what "got too hot" could be taken for...
  • Guile Hero: The Poet is constantly getting into sticky situations, and every time he manages to get out of them with quick thinking and a silver tongue (and a fair amount of luck).
  • Melismatic Vocals: "So-o-o-o-o-o-o teeny!"
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • When the Poet learns that the Wazir married Marsinah by force after the Caliph saw her in the harem, he says "In Allah's name, what have I done!"
    • The Caliph also qualifies. He is young and idealistic, but watch out if you anger him.
  • Only Sane Man: Lalume and the Poet both fall into this trope, especially when they're talking to the Wazir.


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