Arabian Nights, *****
"If you only see one family show this Christmas, make it this one.
Full of Eastern promise from the off, Arabian Nights delivers entertainment, laughs and drama in spades.
This engrossing production tells the famous story of Shahrazad and her marriage to a king so embittered by the faithlessness of his first wife that he each day weds a new bride - and after each night orders their execution.
But in the ultimate case of heads, you lose, tales you win, the inventive Shahrazad comes up with a plan to ensure he marriage - and her life - lasts beyond a single wedding night... by telling captivating stories over 1,001 nights that leaves the fascinated king forever wanting more.
And this performance at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre is every bit as inventive as those beguiling tales.
Playing a host of different parts, the actors romp through iconic stories such as Sinbad and Ali Baba (albeit with the broadest of Welsh accents - making him, um, Valley Baba?) as well as less well-worn tales (the flatulent rich man in his gold leisure suit, anyone?) with consummate verve.
In an ingenious twist , the cast also take on musical roles, playing instruments on stage to evocatively underscore the action - a bit of sheikh, rattle and roll, if you will.
There are truly stand-out performances from each of the eight actors in the ensemble, but particular plaudits must go to Keiron Self (best known for his role in BBC sitcom My Family) as the Vizier, Elin Phillips as Shahrazad, and Alun Saunders as the hapless comic foil in several of the tales.
The staging, complete with dunes and a host of enchanting lightbulbs, all adds to the sumptuousness of the whole night.
The bite-sized tales deliver a feast of enjoyment that never drags throughout the two hours - delivering a funny, poignant and above all thoroughly entertaining experience for everyone from the youngest audience member (it’s recommended for ages 7+) up.
Utterly captivating, this company of actor-musicians truly makes this a night to remember.
And just like Shahrazad’s tales, they leave you wanting more."
- Trust Williams, The Western Mail