Sunday, June 04, 2017

"Arabian Nights" @ Constellation Theatre

Sometimes shows end on a crescendo like "Ragtime" at the Ford's Theatre.  And sometimes they just peter out...  As much as I love Constellation Theatre's previous two productions this season, "Arabian Nights" final performance was underwhelming.  The stage was fairly straightforward and gave the actors plenty of space upon which to unravel a series of tales.  The performance was full of much to delight, but the energy level of a couple of the key players was very uneven and tended to give the overall feeling of my "slinky" commute around the beltway in the morning.  Both actors playing the kings Ryan Sellers (Shahryar) and Kevin Stockwell (Harun Al-Rashid) got off to shaky starts and remained uncommitted pretty much up until the second act.  Thankfully Veronica del Carro's (Scheherezade) hit the ground running and provided a consistent performance, as did Shravan Amin in the title role of the Madman's Tale.  Matthew Aldwin McGee and Lilian Oben also gave wonderfully energetic and compelling performances respectively.  As a play, "Arabian Nights" is both what you would expect in terms of plot, and difficult to pull off.  Each vignette is part of the greater whole, but really sort of stands on it's own merits, too.  Although each is interesting in and of itself, strung together it came to feel a little bit like a marathon--and by sitting under the AC system, a marathon being run in the dead of winter.  While it was 84˚ and sunny outside in seat C 205 it was 55˚ with a wind chill factor of 43˚!--which I guess is pretty consistent with the chill of an Arabian Night.
Ryan Sellers (King Shahryar) ready to remove the head of Surasree Das (Dunyazade) as her older sister Veronica del Carro (Sheherezade) makes her pitch to tell the king a story in exchange for their lives.
Scheherezade leading the ensemble in a jubilant moment of dance
Dallas Milholland (the Jester's Whoring Wife) with one of her lovers, Tom Howley (The Caliph's Musician)
Two of the really bright spots of the production Lilian Oben and Shriven Amin

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