1001 Arabian Nights, Griffin Theatre Company.
Resourceful Schehera-zade’s telling of 1,001 tales offers the ultimate proof of the power of art over life and love over death: she both saves her life and wins a king. Distracting the merciless monarch from his vow to behead the lady with whom he’s spent the night, Sherizade (as she’s called in this Griffin Theatre production) first persuades him to fall in love with her enchanting tales–and then, inevitably, with herself.
Griffin’s 50-minute children’s-theater adaptation offers its own tribute to the power of storytelling, with its swift-moving, playful inventions. Set in the Arabian kingdom of Shappisland, this beguiling 1001 Arabian Nights includes the story of a rich but cheap doctor’s “everlasting shoes” and the stink they raise at a bathhouse as well as the tale of a prince who must choose whether to be “the demon or the donkey” in order to win his beloved’s hand.
Taking its cue from the wonderful Warner Brothers cartoon scores that fuel the action, Elizabeth Klaviter’s staging teems with pell-mell performances from Christian Ruzich and Leanne Beauregard as helpful dervishes, Sarah Morello as a practical sorceress, and Megan Smith as Sherizade’s skeptical sister. Anchoring the plot are the attractive couple of Dawn Hillman as the lovely, resilient Sherizade and Bil Ingraham as the handsome wizard-king. Given recent events, it’s a consolation, however bitter, to discover that at least one wife-murderer can be reformed.