Arabian Nights – Review

Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
reviewed by Jenni Balow

One thousand and one Arabian delights can be savoured as exotic tales unfold on a stage transformed into a dazzling Eastern bazaar by a hugely enthusiastic team of students from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

The first year group of Drama, Applied Theatre and Education students have added youthful spice and lashings of creativity, and even a touch of reality show fun, to the stories of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Aladdin, the Little Beggar and the Tale of the Anklet told by Scheherazade to an ever-more fascinated King Shahryar.

They top it all with a giant all-encompassing Welsh wizard of a genie – “your wish is my command, boyo” – and have made glove puppet ‘thieves’ to match their own striped kit. The cast also work with a dummy tailor, both whole and in bits, spit water as they improvise a fountain, cartwheel to open caves, scoot across the stage, and like true sultans of swing, play the music they have composed themselves, using an eclectic range of instruments including steel drums, trumpet, bongo, and guitars.

This team of more than 30 are not simply drama students, their course demands that they devise the production headed by Stephen Farrier and directed by Joyce Branagh, create the characters including a camp couple, Eugene and Beatrice (where did they get those names, perhaps it was something to do with the head gear!) played by Daniel Correia and Pete Lambie, choreograph and learn the rhythmic dances, design and make the costumes and props and of course, learn their lines. That is a lot of work and this bubbly production reflects their zestful team approach guided by designer Keith Orton and musical director Zara Nunn.

During their stay in Cornwall, second year undergraduates will be running school workshops, and they are putting on extra matinees for youngsters in a collaboration with the Minack that has entered its 20th year