Arabian Night’s Review

Alex Giekse plays the storyteller Shahrazad.
Alex Giekse plays the storyteller Shahrazad.

Dominic Cooke’s adaptation of these magical tales was first seen in London at the Young Vic in 1998. Based on One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of folk tales from the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, Arabian Nights is rich with suspense, romance and hilarity – stories irresistible for all ages, At its heart is the power of the imagination to heal, inspire, and transform.  One of the advantages of Arabian Nights is that whoever adapts it has 1,001 tales to choose from. Cooke’s version includes well-known stories such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and The Little Beggar. He’s kept it fresh by jettisoning Aladdin and inserting a couple which aren’t as well-known.

The result is a largely sparkling production which has something for all the family.

Here at Homestead, with a cast of 18 rather than the original nine, it blends exciting narrative with expressive movement: every bit as gripping, as it requires our imaginative collaboration. The premise is familiar: Shahrazad has to come up with a new story every night to save herself.

But what impresses most about Homestead’s production is the lightning speed of the storytelling and the physical transitions. In Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves the actors change in a second from galloping horsemen to the treasure in the cave to the thieves once again.

Shahrazad tells her sister, Sarah Mai, a story while the King, William Toney, listens
Shahrazad tells her sister, Sarah Mai, a story while the King, William Toney, listens

Several individuals shine out of a strong ensemble. Alex Gieske’s Shahrazad never lets us forget that her life depends upon her tale-spinning while Wiliam Toney’s king moves, like Shakespeare’s Leontes, from tyrannical rage to moral penitence. Kia Pourmodheji is all rubber-limbed vivacity as an irrepressible, fish-swallowing beggar, and Sam Ginkel reports for duty as Abu Hassan who detonates a theatre-shaking fart.

This irresistible production of Arabian Nights transports us to another world that reminds us of the power of storytelling, not only to take us outside of ourselves, but to recognize our common humanity.

May 1 and 2 @ 7:30pm
May 3 @ 2pm

Students $7
Adults $8

Or Donate a children’s book and get $1 off your ticket!!!

The HHS Seniors of the AVID program are collecting children’s books for the Books for Kids at Next Door foundation.

The organization needs the following books:
– Infant/toddler board books
– Preschool picture/read to me type books (Dr. Suess, Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, etc.)
– Early reading books for elementary kids.

The books can be new or gently used and will be given to children in need in the Milwaukee area.

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