Arabian Nights

Oh the Arabian Nights, it is almost impossible to do anything this clichéd without filling it with belly dancers, turbans and fezzes. This production is no different. The musical show by Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre is filled with great performances but unfortunately is marred by the quality of its book. This is one of the oldest stories in the world but I will provide a quick recap. King Shahryar has been cheated on by his wife and has decided that he will marry a new woman every day and every evening they will be executed. Step forward Sheherazade, daughter of the royal Vizier, whose skill at story telling is enough to stay the hand of the king every night, 1001 nights to be precise. Now that pointless section is over.Sheherazade’s stories are portrayed with a great amount of skill by the entire ensemble. There are stand-out performances here from Luke Pitman, who plays the chief thief in Ali Baba And The 40 Thieves with great control and wit, and Millie Layton, who provides a hilarious performance as the eponymous fisherman in the story of the Fisherman and the Genie. The actors jump around playing various characters in the stories with skill and ease. There are also some excellent vocal performances - Sheherazade and the Vizier both have promising voices for such young actors. On top of this, the set is brilliant for a Fringe show and the cast utilise silks and cushions to emphasise their particular impression of Arabia.This is all beside the point, however, as strong performances by the cast could not make up for the terrible quality of the writing. The song lyrics are appalling. The emphasis that music places on terrible and obvious rhymes is unforgivable. This alongside the script, which had some clunky and awful writing, ruined any chance of the show being anything more than average. Although I will admit the choice to avoid portraying Aladdin was a wise decision by the writer. The Arabian Nights demonstrates a great amount of potential from the young cast in all forms of theatre. They deserve a better script than this, maybe they can rub a lamp and wish for one.

The Blurb

Long ago, in a far off land, a brutal king who has executed 1000 wives is to be married to the beautiful Sheherazade. Only Sheherazade's magical gift of storytelling can save her life. ***** (‘Metamorphoses’ Edinburgh Screenworks 2010).