Written by Stephen Adly Guigris, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings is a play set in the Times Square neighborhood in New York City during the mid 1990s. The story chronicles several scenes of a group of individuals’ life, which mostly takes place in a bar around Hell’s Kitchen area, from Monday morning to Wednesday night. The bar, located in the middle of the New York City and receives various people from the most diverse backgrounds, is the perfect place for this story to be told because it would to impossible to find another place as nasty, filthy and commercialistic.
The bar is a mini underground world, containing people of greatest variety, from John to prostitute, from junkie to entrepreneur. Within those people, most people would probably say the main conflicts are between richness and poverty; or between a desire for money and the difficulty to achieve some. The real conflict, however, is between the hopes and reality; or, in Sammy’s words, it’s between the real world and Arabia, which is a utopia where everyone’s dreams come true.
The title, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, thus conveys the characters’ hope for the realization of their dreams; and it also expresses a caricature of the reality. In this story, I (Charlie) am a thirty-year-old Italian-American who works in this bar as a bartender. I have a crush on Chickie, a young crackhead prostitute. Chickie, however, is really into her boyfriend, Skrank, an unsuccessful actor who turned junkie and never truly cares about Chickie.
Although Chickie might be aware of my feelings for her, she treats me only as a friend. Being a simple person, I love Chickie from the deepest bottom of my heart: I would be upset when Chickie says I’m not really better than her boyfriend; I would simply tell Chickie that I will always protect her; I would remember Chickie’s favorite food; I would attack Skrank for not protecting her; I would even be willing to go to jail for her.
I always see myself as a Jedi warrior with superpower so that I can protect Chickie from being hurt, and this has been my main objective throughout the entire play. However, my Jedi-self only exists in the Arabia world. In reality, I am nothing but a weak coward. I am bullied by everyone even though I’m big; I’m afraid to tell Chickie what I really think after I call her before she leaves the room; as a bartender I am not able to make a costumer pay for her drink; most importantly, I can’t even protect Charlie rom being hurt like I promised.
My cowardliness as well as Chickie’s feeling for Skrank have together form the obstacles that hinder me from achieving my objective to be with her and protect her. In the real world, all I can do is to hate myself for my incapability and wish her the best. Just like old Sammy, I also wish I lived in Arabia, where Chickie is a princess and I’m the Jedi warrior who guards her day and night.