A delightful evening of storytelling awaits the audience in Bagnor in a very traditional style mixed with the usual Watermill resourcefulness and originality. Last year the Watermill’s Christmas show disappointedly played safe. The difference this year, however, is that this production has been given a sprinkling of the legendary Watermill magic and the cosy improvisation which brings some of the tales to life just seems to suit the venue perfectly.
Rosalind Steele, Samantha Sutherland and Morgan Philpott in Arabian Nights at the Watermill Theatre, Bagnor Photo: Philip Tull
The talented cast of six include a storyteller The Hakawati, played by Kit Orton, Tarek Merchant as the pernicious King Dara Al-Saeed and Amanda Wilkin as his distraught new wife, Princess Cyra. With Morgan Philpott, Rosalind Steele and Samantha Sutherland acting out the first of the stories intended to melt the heart of the King, it is not long before each actor takes their turn to become the storyteller and the rest of the cast the narrative ensemble.
Making no disguise of the fact that some of the tales require more creativity than the characters can conjure, the devised theatricality to create a fisherman’s catch, an ebony flying horse and an ugly tortoise is inspired, humorous and charmingly effective.
Original music by Simon Slater is done full justice by the cast of actor musicians and Robin Belfield direction is beautifully placed to make the most of the challenging settings.