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Arabian Nights

by on 26 November 2017

One Magical Night

Arabian Nights

by Dominic Cooke

Q2 Players, The Alexandra Room, Kew, 23rd to 25th November

Review by Viola Selby

Once upon a time there was a group of fantastic storytellers, called the Q2 Players, who transported their audience to a magical Arabian land, through the use of their first class acting skills; exotic costumes, excellently designed by Harriet Muir; and atmospheric music, organised by Felicity Morgan. The tale they told, of Arabian Nights, may have been heard many times over the centuries, but never with such magic and passion, that made it feel like this is the first time it has ever been told.

To begin with, the stage is intimate, with the audience members sitting in a sort of semi-circle close to the action. This, met with the use of a minimalist set design, encourages the viewers to really get involved, using their imagination, just how one would when being told a bedtime story. However Q2 have not let this minimalist approach limit their creativity, using other props in creative and occasionally humorous ways. For example, the use of some of the players, dressed in cleverly designed cloaks with gold inner lining, as the opening of the Cave of Wonders was spectacular; whilst the use of a puppet as Sinbad on his adventures was comedic genius and really helped create more variety in the manner each story’s presentation.


As the stories are told, each of the actors’ talents is shown off, as a wide variety of characters are created through just eleven players.  Each character is brilliantly acted out, depicting their individual wants, desires, fears and personality. An example of this is the manner in which Tony Cotterill goes from being the captain of the forty thieves to old Sinbad, to a man turned into a dog by his wife, to a man so embarrassed by letting off a large fart at his wedding that he runs away to India for the rest of his life.  Cotterill manages to make each of these characters so realistic and relatable, that it feels as if each part had been played by a different actor. Such subtlety is also mastered into the play as Sharazad , played by the talented Jess Warrior, uses her power of story-telling to not only keep herself alive, but to also seduce the king, excellently portrayed by Scott Tilley, into loving her. The effect this is having on the king is shown through the clever way Warrior and Tilley change the way they act towards each other, building up chemistry, and getting closer to one another, both physically and emotionally, as each story is told.


In addition to this sexual passion and talent, there are also many other scenes that create humour and keep the audience very much entertained. For example, one of my particularly favourite moments was seeing Alison Arnold, as the clever slave girl Marjanah, do a mesmerising belly dance. Although the dance itself was very bewitching, Arnold still kept the feeling of suspense of her character’s deadly plan going as she shook her hips to the music. Whilst the occasional use of audience participation kept all audience members, young and old, fully engaged; clapping along to the music and shouting the magic words at Sidi (played by Cotterill ) to turn his wife into a horse. All this comes together in the enlightening messages that can be taken away from each story and … with the delicious baklavas sold during the interval … truly make this one magical night not to be missed.

Viola Selby
November 2017

Images by RishiRai Photography

  1. Thanks, Viola, so glad you enjoyed the show, we had great fun doing it! 🙂

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  1. Review by Mark Aspen – Q2 Players

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