Let me tell you about that night…Well, let’s see, I was at the Stables Theatre in the audience of Arabian Night, directed by Eamon Flack and witnessed an enchanting piece of theatre. It begins as a series of five monologues which overlap and interact, with each actor taking us through the events of a single evening in a block of flats.
Lomeier (Bryce Youngman) is the caretaker of the building, who heads to the seventh floor to investigate an apparent shortage of water on that level. He comes to flat 732, which is inhabited by the straight-talking Fatima (Alice Ansara) and Franziscka (Sarah Becker). He helps Fatima, who has dropped her keys, and they both walk in to find housemate Franziscka, who works in a hospital lab, dozy after a long day at work, and ready for a bath. Karpati (Andre Jewson) lives in the apartment block across from the one in question, and watches Franziscka bathe through his window. Finding himself drawn to her, he leaves his building to make her acquaintance. Lastly, Kalil (Elan Zavelsky) is Fatima’s genial boyfriend, who rides his moped over to see her, but gets stuck in the elevator on the way to the seventh floor.
To tell you what happens after this would be to ruin a series of glorious surprises. But before you can say “Melrose Place on acid”, things spin out into the absurd, as characters move in and out of dreams and fantasies, mingling memory and reality.
What stops it all from being pretentious is Roland Schimmelpfennig’s tight and beautifully-written script and a cast who revel in it. All five actors do a great job, and Flack makes great use of the limited space in the Stables. Chris Mercer and Stephen Toulmin’s sound design is subtle but effective. (The thunder storm outside was an added bonus).
All up, this piece is like a poem; a kinky, sexy, comic, sad, ode to longing and love and desire. And the key here is playfulness. Arabian Night enjoys its random moments and flights of fancy, yet doesn’t take itself too seriously, and at the same time, isn’t frivolous. In his program notes Flack says it was a lot of fun to put on, and this is blindingly clear. It can only entice attendance at the next production from a new theatre collective going by the name of Bob Presents.
At 70 minutes long, it’s a very measured trip. What does it all mean? I have no idea. But sometimes not knowing is all part of the pleasure. This review comes a little late in the season. But there’s still time. Go and see.
A Bob presents and Griffin Stablemates presentation
by Roland Schimmelpfennig
Venue: SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross NSW 2011
Dates: 1 - 23 August 2008
Times: Mon 6.30pm, Tues – Sat 8pm, Sat Mat 2pm on final Sat performance only.
Bookings: MCA Ticketing 1300 306 776