EDINBURGH 2014 - BWW Reviews: ARABIAN NIGHTS, Gilded Balloon, August 15 2014
The premise of Arabian Nights doesn't really sound like a show suitable for children. Sheherazade has just married the king but as he was betrayed by his first wife he sentences each bride to death after just one day of marriage. To delay her execution Sheherazade begins to tell the king of all the stories she knows and his interest in her grows and she begins to hope that she won't meet the same fate as his previous 1,000 wives.
The actual storytelling in Arabian Nights is nothing short of magical. The talented three-strong cast play over fifty roles using very basic costume changes. The piece has been cleverly created and whole situations are changed with the addition of a hat or glasses.
The stories told are a little darker than I expected as most involve some form of murder. The performers keep it light hearted and very entertaining especially the main narrator/storyteller in the play. They cover Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Fisherman and the Genie, The Little Beggar and Aladdin.
The main set piece is simple but very effective and the actors make good use of it during scene changes. The lighting and music is subtle and also used well. At the beginning of the performance the audience are quite involved as the Storyteller greets everyone on their way in and has a bit of fun with the front row. This runs into the first story slightly but it is not a heavily interactive show as some of the families in attendance might have thought; however, the storytelling is done in such a way that it captivates the entire audience and nobody gets restless.
Arabian Nights runs at the Gilded Balloon until August 24th.