The phrase “must-see” gets overused. This show is, however, a must-see. You can book your tickets here. It closes on Saturday January 12th, so get your skates on.
It’s hard to know where to begin with a show this good. So I’ll start with the “set up”; everything is peachy in the kingdom until the King sees his Queen playing away from home. He has her executed and then marries a new young woman from his kingdom every night… and orders her execution the following morning. This goes on for years, as he takes his revenge on women in general. Shaharazad, the daughter of the King’s vizier (lieutenant), begs her father to marry her to the king. He is, naturally, lukewarm on the idea, not realising that she has a plan. To save her own neck – and the necks of other women who would surely follow her – she will tell a beguiling tale and leave her one-man audience wanting more. Can she do it?
There are only nine actors, but between them they play over a hundred characters (there are some very fast costume changes!), with humour, pathos, verve and real physical flair. As Shaharazad Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi shines, but everyone else (Paul Barnhill, Mark Carlisle, Emilio Doorgasingh, Kezrena James, Jo Mousley, Tachia Newall, Mitesh Soni and Claire Storey) has their chances to show their talents, and on every occasion they grab the opportunity. Many familiar stories – Ali Baba, Sinbad the Sailor and others – are here, alongside less familiar ones, from a script by theatre director and playwright Dominic Cooke. There is greed, stupidity, love, despair, fart gags, laughter and much much else.
Kudos too, obviously to the musician (Arun Ghosh) the director (Amy Leach), the designer (Hayley Leach) and everyone else who made this show well, brilliant and a … “must-see”. Did I mention that it closes on Saturday January 12th, and that you can – should – book tickets now?
Here’s the trailer…
PS And thanks to the manager at the matinee performance we went to, who found us new seats away from a child too young to be in the audience!
Token Climate Bit
So, it’s a show about redemption for previous senseless crimes, and a climate activist might ask “Where are the story-tellers with the guts and guile of Shaharazad?”
But of course, the “decider” in 1001 nights is unitary. He is an undisputed king – as he has decided to be a monster, so he can decide not to be. There is no executioners’ union complaining that they’ve taken on new staff to deal with increasing demand caused by his hacking off of heads, and that they will be thrown into poverty if Shaharazad’s “meddling” is successful. There is no funeral service association petitioning for the new death rates to be maintained…
The king, here, can change his ways, his dominion over all he sees still intact. Homo sapiens sapiens? Not so much…
BTW – we are not going to make a habit of “Off Topic” posts! Here is our (new) policy on ’em.