It is startling, to say the least, to be quietly sitting in a Cairo cafe when the door flies open and a troop of armed American soldiers barges in shouting, "Turn off your goddamn mobiles!"
They are actors, though, and their abrupt entrance into the lobby coffee shop of the Hanagir Theater is intended to mimic the jolt felt across the Arab world when the United States Army stormed into Iraq.
"Messing With the Mind" has been sold out nightly since it opened in late January for what was originally to be a two-week run.
"The question is whether total surrender is the only option we face or whether we can resist," said Khaled al-Sawy, the writer, director and star of the play. "Most plays just weep about our general situation; they show us as dying. But I felt people wanted a play that talks about resisting."
President Bush shows up, justifying the American-led invasion of Iraq through a live speech on "Democracy Television," a joke about Al Hurra, or The Free One, the Arabic satellite news channel that his administration finances.
"We just want to clean you up, make you human beings," Mr. Bush says. "Arab petroleum is for the Arabs and democracy is for the Arabs. We are going to make you cool, open your minds. We will never forget your favors — we love you, believe me we love you."