Arabian Nights makes for a magical evening

Friday, 06 January 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 1 By  Mike Thomas

The Regent’s School’s Senior School Production team featured Arabian Nights in the Globe Theatre December 7 & 8.

The theatre was transformed into a vast tent to house the dreams and adventures of the world of Shaharazad and her 1001 Stories. Skillfully adapted by Dominic Cooke for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of 2008, this version selected 8 plays threaded by short but effective linking scenes. In a real sense the audience became enveloped by the intoxicating atmosphere and wild action, particularly the dog chase in the Story of the Wife who would not Eat.

El-Sindibad tells of his adventures.El-Sindibad tells of his adventures.

The play was framed by the story of Sharayar cruelly betrayed by his Queen. As a result he determines to exact a brutal revenge by marrying a wife for one night only - that is until the Vizier agrees to his daughter Sharazad’s request to offer herself as wife. In order to fend off the inevitable doom she tells stories to enchant her husband the king. These ranged from the spectacular excitement of the flying birds and sea voyages of Es-Sindibad to the haunting worlds of the Envious Sisters with its stones that speak and the slapstick knockabout humour of The Little Beggar. By the end of the play with its powerful tale of redemptive self-enlightenment The Story without an Ending Sharayar has learnt powerful truths about himself in order to be truly free.

The production would not have been as effective without the authority of the central performances, particularly Yulia Kudreyavyseva as Shaharazad, David Hu as Sharayar, Triin Ounapuu as Dinarazad and Daniel Bowler as the Vizier.

Shaharazad casts her spell.Shaharazad casts her spell.

There were other excellent performances in the course of the evening, including Ethan Northcutt as the elderly sea-salted Sindibad looking back on his marvelous adventures, Julianne Dionissio as a cruelly-treated Youngest Sister in the Envious Sisters and a newly married wife about to be disappointed in Abu Hassan and Link Sae Jee who lightened up the stage as the tailor in Little Beggar and Cook in Envious Sisters.

In truth, this was an ensemble production where every student actor formed a vital thread in this most fantastical tapestry of dreams which by turns amused and chilled them in such contrasting tales as Abu Hassan and the flesh-eating ghouls of the Wife who Would not Eat. Much of the action was depicted through the dexterity of body and voice bringing the students’ physical theatre skills into sharp relief.

The Forty Thieves arrive at the cave.The Forty Thieves arrive at the cave.

Indeed, all the 36 actors on stage deserve hearty congratulations for their superb creativity and the sheer energy they brought to their often many different roles which truly enveloped the audience within these intoxicating visions.

The actors on stage were supported by a dedicated stage management and technical team and particular congratulations should be given to Gagic Beglaryanand and Kat Onufrieva who spent hours of dedicated work helping to make the puppets; Tom Watkinson who stepped in to help backstage and Gyu Meong Lim who led the technical sound and lighting team. Thanks, too, to the gap staff Emily Westmoreland and Pona Litheko who supported the production process from the very beginning.

Judging by the enthusiastic comments from the audience afterwards this was a production that surprised and delighted and will hopefully bring them back to the world of theatre many times into the future. This production also supported the work of three of our community partners, namely Kate’s Project, the Mercy Centre, Pattaya and the Camillian Centre, Rayong.

Please note the future productions this academic year, which will be headlined by that most well-loved of musicals, West Side Story in June and, before that, a hugely entertaining talent-showcase Variety Night for KS3 students in March.

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