Wajdi Mouawad and the beauty of quantum

Au bout de l'équation, « Racine carrée du verbe être » se termine en un hymne à l'amour, dans la danse et les chansons.

Posted Oct 24, 2022, 5:00 PM

On August 22, 1978, while the Lebanese war was raging, Wajdi Mouawad’s father decided to take his family to safety, by making him take the first plane for Europe. Destination Paris… The exile which was to last only a few months will be that of a lifetime. What would have become of the 9-year-old child if he had taken the plane according to who was leaving for Rome?

Calling on his abundant imagination and quantum physics, the director of the Théâtre de la Colline takes us on a tour of his multiverses in his new theatrical fresco, “Racine Carrée du Verb To Be”, on view until the end of year. He summons not only a twin brother, but five doubles of himself, the five men he could have been, under the code name Talyani Waqar Malik: a taxi driver in Paris, a surgeon in Rome, an artist in Montreal, an assassin in Texas and a jeans salesman in Beirut.

For six hours (counting the two intermissions), the spectator is caught up in this story of a multiplied life with its variations and its constants, its accidents and its prodigies which make our hero tip over for good or evil. The gigantic explosion that destroyed the heart of Beirut on August 4, 2020 is the high point of the show, the big bang that frees ghosts.

The actor and director takes us on a wonderful human adventure, where ancient tragedy takes on the tinsel of the present. Difficult filiation, violence against women, incest, homophobia and religious fanaticism, ecological disaster… The world and its scourges cross characters forever scarred by war. The only (beautiful) unknown remains love and its miracles.


After a first part of the exhibition, Wajdi Mouawad weaves his five plots with amazing fluidity in the moving and “arty” setting of Emmanuel Clolus. The actors pass without warning from one character to another with “quantum” virtuosity. Jérôme Kircher advantageously shares with Wajdi Mouawad the various incarnations of the hero Talyani, while Norah Krief puts her banter and grace at the service of the immutable character of sister Layla.

Situations jostle, times get confused, the shadows of Chronos and King Lear cross paths with a trumpet player and green militants. From math lesson to life lesson, Wajdi Mouawad’s grand gesture becomes more and more captivating and moving. Logically, “Square root of the verb to be” ends in triumph. The standing audience applauded wildly. His cheers are as many Eureka, saluting the magnificent equation of the magician of the Hill, inventor of a “multiversal” theater.

square root of the verb to be


by Wajdi Mouawad

Paris, Hill Theater


Until December 30. 6 hours. In two evenings during the week, in full on weekends.

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