The Steinbrenner Theater program undertook another ambitious project with The Arabian Nights, and pulled it off with flair.
The district champion program’s ‘Arabian Nights’ is a tremendously difficult play. It’s done black box style: the actors only leave the stage at intermission, and everyone plays multiple roles, not to mention the lack of any substantial music. This means the performance is simply a wall of text.
With a cast that was more than 50 percent new to the stage according to director Lindsay Painter; the entire play was rehearsed for a total of three weeks. Yet there were no errors in placement that were noticeable to the audience, no slip ups in lines, no pauses, nothing. The play flowed from beginning to end, very fluid and very impressive without all the factors that should have limited the production.
Arabian Nights is a conglomeration of tales told within tales, told within tales. They are generated on the preface that Joshua Rolle (Aziz) plans to kill his new wife Scheherazade, but she insists on telling continual stories each night for her younger sister and Aziz. The tales all teach a lesson in moral character, kindness, and the like, slowly turning the king’s murderous intentions around.
Rolle (Aziz) performed well in the–by design–leadless play, pulling off a tremendous touching moment near the end, breaking through the comedic malaise on the majority of the show. Most of that comedy came from great acting by Jon-Paul Schaut and Isaac Figueroa, the funny men that continued to make appearances throughout the tales told within the show and draw laughs. Matthew Balkum, Sarah Whiting, and Christina Layton also produced stand-out performances. Layton in particular by playing the girl in the tale “The Contest of Generosity” was able to capture the stage with real, raw emotional displays.
Arabian Nights was worth a see and made for a fulfilling watch; it did, however, require focus not to get lost in the complex array of tales. Score: 8/10.
Zealand Shannon / Sports Editor