Arabian Nights (4 stars)

This article is from 2010.

Arabian Nights

Tales from old Baghdad

As soon as you walk into the Storytelling Centre, you’re met with the exotic aroma of burning incense. That, and a stage filled with promise – middle eastern and otherwise. Andy Lawrence and his company, Theatre of Widdershins, have built up a formidable reputation at the Fringe in recent years. We’ve come to expect intricate sets that reveal surprise after surprise, beautifully crafted puppets that come alive in Lawrence’s capable hands, and well-loved tales re-told in his inimitable fashion.

With Arabian Nights we once again score all three, even if it’s not quite the triumph of previous productions such as The Kings Got Donkey’s Ears or Elves and the Shoemaker.

Of the 1001 of Scheherazade’s tales available to him, Lawrence has chosen three – The Dream, The Fool and His Donkey and The Fisherman and The Genie. He calls them ‘lost’ tales – mainly because Disney and its ilk haven’t got their hands on them. But perhaps there’s a reason for that – they don’t have the strongest of plots.

That said, Lawrence does wonders with them. Three giant books sit piled on top of cushions, each one containing all manner of puppets and props, with special mention going to the hat that grows ears and the smoke-producing genie bottle. Lawrence can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to set design and storytelling, but on this occasion, he’s the main event, not the material.

Scottish Storytelling Centre, 556 9579, until 30 Aug, 1pm, £7.50 (£5).

Arabian Nights

  • 4 stars

Fly your carpet beyond blue horizons, through sheltering skies, over shifting sands and discover this mysterious and magical world. Three lost tales of Sheherazade - storyteller extraordinaire: one hauled from the bottom of a fish-filled ocean; one from the roasting path of the Silk Road and a third straight from the…

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