THIS year’s TRB Theatre School Summer Company is performing egg staffer Hattie Taylor’s new adaptation of The Tales of 1001 Nights at Bath’s dedicated youth theatre space.
With a 29-strong cast on the tiny stage – and a vast number of stories to choose from – it’s as exciting a prospect for the writer as for the director and performers. Together they have created a memorable, relevant and exciting evening.
Set in The Haven, a place where orphaned or separated children take refuge from an oppressive regime, it has an Oliver Twist meets Ice Road feel about it. Director Sophie Jacobs-Wyburn and her cast evoke both the comfort of “home” and the constant fear of discovery as they unravel the story. This could be Syria or Iraq or the US borderlands – more or less anywhere in these uncertain times, but the message is never punched home or over-egged.
Special congratulations to the creators of the monkey puppets and the horse and to Caitlin Abbott for simple, effective designs and splashily colourful costumes to bring the stories to life.
The children live for the evening stories, told by Scherherazade (aka Zade), a mysterious leader whose choices are aimed at teaching the younger members of The Haven the lessons they will need to survive in the dreaded outside world.
It is an ensemble piece, but outstanding among the excellent cast were Matilda Broadbridge as Zade, Harry Bradley as Abu, Stevie Saunders as Kaz, Lily Davies-Potter and Alex Robson as the comic police officers (and in several other roles), Eliana Woosnam, and Yves Morris playing the enigmatic Shah.
Mostly, the audibility was much improved, but some shy students still seemed to keep their heads down and upstage, making it very difficult to hear the words.
And please, please, will Mr Rees-Mogg or some other government grammarian commission a new vocabulary to keep up with the changes in our society. In a right-on effort not to offend the non-binary, Arabian Nights described a body as “they”. They is a plural word, for more than one person. If we go on like this, censuses will become an impossibility.