Tales from the Arabian Nights at Greenwich ParkCultureTheatre
London Bubble’s adaptation of Tales from the Arabian Nights transports us from present-day London into a distant world where goats can transform into men, monkeys talk and intervene with fate, and all the while a jealous king takes his revenge on all the women in the land. This is a promenade production performed in Greenwich Park, so the audience is required to walk to various locations around the park in order to hear the tales.
The promenade element is very effective because not only does it illustrate the way the original tales were spread, ie through trade and travel, but it also keeps theatre-goers awake and engaged throughout. Greenwich Park is an excellent setting as, apart from the distant lights of Canary Wharf’s skyline, it is easy for one to forget where they are and when it gets dark spectators could literally be anywhere in the world.
This play is performed on a shoestring budget, but the Arabian Nights creatives still manage to incorporate some very impressive set designs. The crew are innovative with their use of space and they manage to make even the smallest prop appear significant. Several members of the cast play musical instruments throughout the performance and, although the music sounds more like medieval England than medieval Arabia, it is still very pleasant and proves useful when the actors are trying to direct the audience around the park after dark. Incense is also incorporated for a sense of authenticity whilst engaging more than the traditional two senses.
The actors have no microphones, but their voices are loud without being deafening and it is easy to keep up with the narrative no matter where you are sitting. The cast take on multiple male and female roles in this piece, but spectators can follow who is who and the performers are convincing in all their roles, even when they keep switching. The dancing is slightly awkward, but it works because it is often incorporated into the comedy.
The ending of Tales from the Arabian Nights is very clever as they finish the tale at its beginning and manage to tie all the stories together to reveal who is telling the tales and why. There are quite a few moments in this show that may be unsuitable for small children, but no one seemed particularly traumatised and the majority of the production is fun and lighthearted despite the subject matter. For anyone looking to escape a night of Netflix, this is an impressive, immersive and truly unique night at “the theatre”.
Photo: London Bubble / Facebook
Tales from the Arabian Nights is at Greenwich Park from 9th until 19th August 2017. For further information or to book visit here.