Any commercial producer with the foresight to transfer Lookingglass’ dramatic adaptation of “The Arabian Nights” to a larger venue would make a fortune. This astonishing company-devised piece represents theatre at its absolutely highest quality—at $10 a ticket, this is unquestionably the best theatrical value in Chicago. The run is short but the work unmissable, so call the box office.
The predominant reason why Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation and production is so theatrically compelling is the quality of the source material. A great undiscovered dramatic treasure, the ancient Eastern stories of the “One Thousand and One Nights” are crammed with timeless wit, unadulterated wisdom and eternal truths. Surprisingly sensual in nature, the stories are arranged in an eternal series of Chinese boxes—the audience is always watching a story with a story within a story.
The supremely talented Lookingglass performers bring their unpretentious stories to life with astonishing vibrancy. Set amongst a world of ancient dress and simple Eastern artifacts, the original music, acrobatics and sensual dance are wonderful. But nothing is ever allowed to intrude on the simple business of storytelling. The audience is gleefully transported to a place where ancient traditions crash like powerful waves against the mean, destructive shores of modern life. (Chris Jones)
At Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 West Belmont. This production is now closed.