Monday, August 3, 2009

Review: Arabian Nights

Arabian Nights
Lookingglass Theatre

Lookingglass returns to one of its classic productions adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman. The piece premiered in 1992 shortly after the conclusion of the Gulf War. The whole play is an homage to the beautiful culture and stories of Baghdad weaving tales of love, folly, loss and all other human emotions.

The production stages the stories of One Thousand and Ones Nights. After executing his wife for adultery, the king of a far off land marries a new bride every night and kills here at dawn so that she may never be unfaithful. Enter Scheherazade: beautiful, clever, and an expert storyteller. She tells the king the most amazing bedtime story that just so happens to leave a very well timed cliffhanger moment as the sun first peeks over the horizon. Wanting to hear the conclusion of the tale, the king spares her life until the next night. The cycle goes on for 1,001 nights until the king decides to relent and lover her as a proper queen.

The main parts of the action take place not in the palace where the stories are being told, but withing the world of the stories. Each actor is called upon to take up many roles and the ensemble shows it strength and flexibility through out all the many tales. Zimmerman's strength always lies in her ability to create mailable yet beautiful worlds; this production is no different. Imaginative staging and design provide for dozens of delightful moments throughout the evening. All elements, including excellent music and musicians, unite perfectly to tell not only one tale, but the many, many tales that make up this story.

Happy Birthday: John C. McGinley (b. 1959)
August 2: Peter O'Toole (b. 1932)

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