Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Arabian Nights Theatre Review

Ryan Sellers, Surasree Das, Veronica del Cerro (r) star in The Arabian Nights (Photo: Daniel Schwartz)

Queen for a Night

Never underestimate the power of a good story. Allison Arkell Stockman's The Arabian Nights is a terrific way to wrap up the Constellation Theatre Company's 10th anniversary season. Despite a relatively bare bones (but effective) set, Stockman and her players spin a thousand and one yarns, each one funnier and more captivating than the next. No easy task, given the play's violent basis (scorned King marries, loves and kills a virgin every night. Ouch.) Ryan Sellers is fantastic as the aforementioned King (Shahryar) who meets his match in Veronica del Cerro's Scheherezade, a quick-thinking/sultry storyteller who tries to end the carnage (and perhaps find love in the process.)

202 Words or Less

Sellers and del Cerro steal the show (along with Yesenia Iglesias & Kevin Sockwell as Perfect Love & Harun al-Rashid) but rarely have I encountered such a balanced and strong ensemble cast. They're almost as many stars, as there are stories. Couple that with superb pacing (kudos Ms. Stockman) and a hurricane-like live soundtrack (WTG Tom Teasley) and The Arabian Nights joins the conversation for best show of 2016-17. Humor, passion, violence... It's all there, without a moment of boredom. Makes you yearn for a good bedtime story, doesn't it? How about 1,001?


The Arabian Nights runs 2 hours and 20 minutes plus an intermission, now through June 4 at the Source Theatre (1835 14th Street, NW.) Tickets cost $20-$45, and are available for purchase online or by calling (202) 204-7741.