Skip to main content

The Arabian Nights

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Down at the very common market the dogs are howling in Suhayla El-Bushra's new family friendly take on the classic Middle Eastern story-book. As brought to life by Ross MacKay's puppets in Joe Douglas' handsomely realised production, the two dogs become a framing device for a Russian doll of a show, in which stories within stories lead to ongoing enlightenment.

Stories, alas, are banned by rule of the Sultan, a bureaucratic NIMBY, who has young Scheherazade's yarn-spinning mum and her fellow stall-holders locked up. Scheherazade proves herself a chip off the old block by blagging her way into the palace, where she regales the Sultan with some shaggy dog stories of her own.

Out of Scheherazade's fantastical imagination pop up a series of universally familiar figures, from Aladdin to Sinbad and a story-book of fellow travellers made flesh in a series of comic turns from Douglas' energetic ten-strong cast. As Rehanna MacDonald's sparky Scheherazade lulls Nicholas Karimi's Sultan into facing up to his own back-catalogue, they are bound, as it were, by a series of flatulent faux pas'. The dogs use their farts as weapons, the Sultan is a bum-faced tyrant, and even Ali Baba is driven by his late-night experiments with dung.

Beyond it’s toilet humour, El-Bushra's script is laced with pop-savvy smarts in a rapid-fire fantasia that joins the dots to illustrate how everything real or imagined connects up to create a global village of a play. The metaphor of the multi-cultural melee turned to rotting fruit once everyone’s been incarcerated isn't hard to spot in the current climate. As Tarek Merchant's Middle Eastern jazz tinged score gives way to some jaunty song and dance routines, it reveals the power of stories – everybody's stories - to change the world.

The Herald, December 8th 2017

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…