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June 13, 2019:

The Thousandth Night reviewed by Rob Stevens

In March, 1943 the occupied French government was assisting their Nazi conquerors in deporting Jews and subversives out of France to “slave labor camps” in the East. French actor Guy de Bonheur finds himself at a train station 50 miles east of Paris. The Resistance has bombed the train tracks ahead so his train to the East has been delayed. Somehow he has managed to out maneuver his guards and he has taken refuge inside, hoping for some warmth. He finds a room full of French gendarmes (the audience) and pleads his case for clemency. The Gestapo officer who arrested him in Paris has it all wrong. He’s just an actor and the plays he participates in aren’t subversive. Here, let him show you a few. He’ll have to act all the roles since some of the actors in his theatre company were Jews and were taken away while others were found to be working for the Resistance and been arrested and tortured. Guy, ever more desperate, like Scheherazade in one of the stories he tells, spins more and more stories to keep himself alive and off that train. Stories from the Arabian Nights—tales of Ali Baba, the fisherman and the genie, etc. Carol Wolf has written a wonderfully inventive tale of her own with The Thousandth Night, incorporating all these elements. Director Jason Heil has deftly kept the pace ever moving forward, with nary a chance for Guy to catch his breath. Their leading man, Sean Yael-Cox masterfully spins the tales, entertaining and expertly switching from character to character with the addition of a piece of clothing or a hat. The tales grow slightly more subversive as Guy realizes his hopes of finding a savior grow ever bleaker.


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