No, we’re not describing a dystopian future where all the Donald Trump critics have mysteriously disappeared, Donald has become immortal and will rule America forever (sorry for the nightmares), we’re describing the setting for The Royal Lyceum’s festive production of 'The Arabian Nights'.
The new take on the old classic, adapted by Suhayla El-Bushra and directed by Joe Douglas, had its world premiere at The Lyceum at the end of November.
The play follows protagonist Scheherazade (Rehanna MacDonald), a child who enchants the cruel ruling sultan (Nicholas Karimi) with her fanciful legends and stories ranging from genies and Sinbad to chess-playing monkeys. Scheherazade’s mother is one of those imprisoned under the relentless laws of the sultan, and though the play is really a series of fun little stories which run one after another, the overarching narrative is of the young girl’s quest to free her mother.
It’s a production which is aimed at families looking for a festive theatre trip and is child-friendly - the language is simple and the performances over the top for a lot of the production.
The sheer volume of flatulence humour is quite overwhelming as well. We could have done with less farting dogs if we’re being honest. Other farsical comedy instalments were handled much better though - the dancing goats were genuinely fantastic and the amenable guards always welcome.
The production verges on pantomime at times, with one of the numerous songs asking for audience participation. The lyrics to the songs weren't great, but the music itself really was brilliant and great for transporting you to the setting in Baghdad.
The costuming and colour scheme of the play is brilliant throughout, as always seems to be the case at The Lyceum, and it’s worth commending even just the decision to stage such a positive, pro-immigration, Middle Eastern play, however famous and well-known the original text. Aimed at kids, it’s the kind of thing that can only have a positive further impact.
A magical carpet ride through Middle Eastern legend, and one that is sure to go down well with the family audience. The second act is definitely stronger than the first, and its certainly not without its flaws, but all in all it's a lot of fun.