Arabian Nights Performing in Central Square Theater: A Must See, Say Theater Experts

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SETU Co-Founder and Director Subrata Das

CAMBRIDGE, MA–The dramatized retelling of One Thousand and One Nights in the Arabian Nights adaptation by Dominic Cooke, which is currently performing at Central Square Theater for the fifth and final holiday season, is receiving rave reviews from local theater goers and actors.

SETU Co-founder Subrata Das
SETU Founder Subrata Das

“This is the fifth year of the highly successful and critically acclaimed play Arabian Nights at the Central Square Theater. We all grew up listening to 1001 Arabian nights stories that have roots at our own Buddha Jataka tales and Vikram & Betala stories,” said Subrata Das, director and co-founder of SETU, a non-profit English theater group in the Boston area that builds bridges between Indian and Western cultures through the medium of theater. “The scenes and story-telling in a magnificent stage setting along with a brilliant performance transported all of us to the era. This show must not be missed.”

Arabian Nights transports audiences East with puppetry, song, and dance. The piece has Indo-Persian roots, particularly in the frame story structure that was a popular device in Indian literature when One Thousand and One Nights found fame. Arabian Nights is currently performing at Central Square Theater through January 3rd, 2016.

“Absolutely loved it. The props are creative and used creatively. We knew the stories and yet the actors who were very versatile made it fun and interesting,” said SETU member Chandrika Shah. “I would recommend seeing it with your kids… the younger kids especially.”

Queen Shahrazad, the storyteller in Arabian Nights’ frame tale, weaves folklore that is believed to be inspired from various ages of Indian literature, from ancient Sanskrit fables to the Jakta tales. These stories, along with the others from the Far and Middle East travelled along caravan routes westward, combining to form the narrative so many cultures cherish today.

SETU Co-founder Jayanti Bandyopadhyay
SETU Co-founder Jayanti Bandyopadhyay

Nilay Mukherjee, another member of SETU, the Arabian Nights does take tales of travels to foreign lands full of wonderous creatures, tales of cunning, love and betrayal.

Mukherjee said it is an impossible comedy. “A thousand stories with a million flavors that kept us entertained for a solid 2 hours and 25 minutes,” he said. “The acting was solid. Each actor played many parts and the seamless blending of one scene into another was remarkable. Actors start off as narrators, then switch to dialogue, then narrate again… the next actor repeats the last lines of the previous actor and lo and behold, we have a new scene. … Go see it: marvel in the creativity: be overwhelmed by all the techniques they used: learn.”

SETU co-founder Jayanti Bandyopadhyay said she highly recommends the play.

“Very entertaining, beautifully directed, great acting,” Bandyopadhyay said. “I was very impressed with the way the magical scenes were portrayed with the simplest props and skillful acting.”

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