Playwright Johnnie Walker puts a darkly comic spin on traditional narrative structure in Nobody's Business Theatre's new show at Next Stage Theatre Festival

Presented by Nobody's Business Theatre
Written by Johnnie Walker
Directed by Morgan Norwich

Lindsey Clark in Scheherazade. Photo by Tanja Tiziana.

Arabian Nights meets Boogie Nights in Johnnie Walker's Scheherazade, a modern, highly sexualized reimagining of the epic fable directed by Morgan Norwich at the 2014 Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Inspired by the famous storyteller from One Thousand and One Nights, the play tells the tale of Scheherazade (Lindsey Clark), a "crazy" young woman with a plan to stop the king from marrying and murdering a different virgin bride every night. Under the protection of her father the Vizier (Clyde Whitham), she and her sister Dunyazade (Heather Marie Annis) are exempt from this brutal tradition, but Scheherazade volunteers to be next in the line of betrothal/beheadings with the intention of putting an end to them forever. On the night of the wedding, after king Shahriyar (Steven McCarthy) has his way with her, Scheherazade requests to see her sister one last time. Young Dunyazade asks to hear a story, which, of course, is a stalling tactic, for the king is forced to postpone Scheherazade's execution if he wants to hear the ending. And so it goes for 1001 nights.

Framed by the drama involving Scheherazade and the king, the fantastical stories (of betrayal, lust, jealousy and tragedy) are dramatized in hilarious, exaggerated (and occasionally disturbing) fashion on stage by a well choreographed ensemble, including Jasmine Chen, Kat Letwin, Chala Hunter, Omar Hady and Matthew Gorman. Meanwhile, Scheherazade and Dunyazade's circumstances continue to develop, as we learn of a secret passage in the castle leading to the prison cell of the rebel poet Abu Nuwas (Christopher Fowler), and a treacherous plot involving Scheherazade's servant Dalilah (Natasha Greenblatt).

Smart, funny and utterly contemporary in its ironic portrayal of antiquated gender roles, Scheherazade is a fast-paced, cleverly staged treat for anyone who enjoys a good yarn. While Walker's script could use editing in parts, the cast performs brilliantly under the direction of Norwich, with McCarthy, Letwin and Fowler delivering particularly strong comedic work. A must-see at this year's festival.

Scheherazade runs until January 19 at Factory Studio as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2014-01-08 - Sun, 2014-01-19
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