BWW Reviews: One Man and a Production Takes on THE THOUSANDTH NIGHT at Metrostage
For the first time in their 30 year history, MetroStage is producing two one-man show pieces in repertory: Underneath the Lintel by Glen Berger, starring Paul Morella, and The Thousandth Night by Carol Wolf, starring Marcus Kyd.
The Thousandth Night, which opened April 3, takes place in Nazi occupied France in 1943. It is about a French actor-Guy de Bonheur-who is arrested in Paris and sent off to get on a train to a work camp.
De Bonheur spends the entirety of the play attempting to convince the audience, who represents the troop French soldiers overseeing the transport of him and other rebels to the camp. In his attempts to convince the soldiers to let him go, he tells stories from the Arabian Nights.
But The Thousandth Night is more than just a play about trying to bypass the Nazi regime and their cruelty-this play is about loss. Not just one loss, but continual and mounting loss. De Bonheur first loses his country, then his family of actors and finally, to his most abiding love, his art.
But the Nazis are not the only ones to blame for his loss, which is the most heart wrenching part about Wolf's piece. De Bonheur is funny and clever, but he is also cowardly and frightened. He abandons his friends to protect himself, and quickly discovers that following the rules does not necessarily mean safety. Wolf's writing, as well as Marcus Kyd's outstanding performance, draws in the audience's laughter and panging sympathy to prove, in part, the flawed nature of human preservation.
The design for The Thousandth Night was as gripping as Kyd's performance. The set, designed by James Kronzer, set a playable backdrop for both the actor and the lights.
The lighting was particularly stunning. Designed by Alexander Keen, the lights of the passing trains and the searching beams of light both before and during the show both gripped the audience to the story and grounded them in the 1943 French train station. It helped raise the already painful stakes De Bonheur faced while trying to convince the soldiers to let him go home.
John Vreeke, the director of The Thousandth Night, laced all of these pieces together to be a seamless work of both sorrow and rebellion. It proved that art, whether in Nazi occupied France or in a theater in Alexandria, always has the potential ability to strike the hearts and stir the fears of an audience better than a politician or dictator can.
The Thousandth Night will be playing until May 18 at MetroStage. The other piece, Underneath the Lintel will be playing from April 17-May 25. For more information, visit www. metrostage.org.
Photo Credit: Chris Banks