The sound of drums filled the air as the cast lined the aisles, chanting in unison. Voices flew from all sides of the auditorium and the audience remained entranced throughout Lake Braddock High School’s production of "The Arabian Nights."
Mary Zimmerman’s play is based on the famous Middle Eastern book "One Thousand and One Arabian Nights." The vicious King Shahryar vows to kill every virgin in his kingdom when he finds his wife with another man. But then he encounters the clever Scheherazade, who tells him a story every night to postpone her own death. "The Arabian Nights" tells stories within stories of death, passion, and revenge.
Elena Dominguez carried the show as Scheherazade the storyteller. She spoke in perfect unison with many of the characters in her stories, and never missed a line or cue. Tony Talcott played the imposing Shahryar, whose deep voice boomed menacingly throughout the theatre. Also prominent was Emma Davis as Sympathy, the most learned woman who outsmarts and humbles a group of scholars. Davis was poised and confident, perfectly immersed in her character. Sarah Fick stole the show as Perfect Love, who takes her revenge on a shopkeeper (Nick Edwards), a man who spurned her years ago. Edwards was also a strong actor, making distinct character choices with each role he played.
The set (Gillian Cannon) was simple but effective, layered with pillows and rugs that evoked an ancient sultan’s palace. Costumes by Catherine Casino took the audience’s breath away with its array of vibrant colors. The lighting (Megan Seibel) was also impressive, featuring a scrim that turned from day to night and a beautiful range of colors in between.
Overall, the show was both visually pleasing and entertaining to watch. Vocalists stunned the audience with clear melodies and haunting lyrics. Occasionally some actors lacked focus, but the ensemble as a whole remained in character throughout the show. Audiences will leave the theatre yearning for the sands of the Sahara and the stars of one thousand and one Arabian nights.