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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Arabian Nights

Story Pocket Theatre

Genre: Children's Theatre

Venue: The Gilded Balloon


Low Down

These tales are told in an inventive and fun way with 3 storytellers, the richness of the stories of yesteryear and creative fun. Story Pocket make this zip along with enough flair to match a thousand Fringe Shows!


The storyteller (Luke Pitman) has forgotten his name because it is so long since he used it. He has also forgotten the name of his two storytelling friends. We should not worry as they become the characters in the tale with which he shall delight us this morning. The overarching story is all about the Sultan (William Forde) and his wife, Sherazade (Yasmin Goodwin). The Sultan has been married over a 1,000 times before as the day after the wedding he kills the women he marries. This is because at some point he was betrayed by his wife and vowed never to be so again – thus he just kills all the women that he marries. His new wife though manages to keep him from tiring of her by telling stories each and every night until she runs out. In the meantime she treats us and him to Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, the Fisherman and the Genie, Little Beggar and Aladdin. In the end the Sultan changes his mind, history and the fate of his last wife.

This was very well written with plenty of scope for slap stick and comedy. I did think at the beginning that it took a wee bit to get going but the performances soon had the audience – nearly full house and plenty of target audience – enthralled.

All 3 performers were exceptional, however Liam Pitman as the storyteller is what gives it zing. His madcap performance as number 9 and as the donkey – amongst many others – keeps the kids totally engaged early on thus allowing Yasmin Goodwin as Sherazade and others and William Forde as the Sultan and many others to breath and inhabit the piece with sensitivity and poignancy. It is a balancing act that was managed well though I was always glad to have the foils there to keep the madness in check.

Francine Huin Wah’s design is wonderful. We have a large white bulb centre stage that is opened – by sesame and other mechanisms – to allow us access to more of the story and the environment in which these fantastic tales are told. Special mention should also go to how the Little Beggar appears – a tremendously inventive method of getting a puppet onstage.

Between the lighting, the soundscape and the shadow puppetry we got enough theatre arts to help the story along. It was great to have such a set in which the actors could perform and whilst it was not a major design feat it allowed more context for the audience.

This was a great performance within a great setting that demonstrated that you can put on an hour’s worth for kids and keep them rapt. The writing was supplemented by great performances that allowed the audience (big kids and little ones too) to ooh and ahh in equal measure whilst keeping an eye on the storytelling process. By the end all the kids had spent time with one of the greatest sets of stories ever told and I am sure they will be talking about it all for a long time to come.