Review by Lesley Finlay

How do you tell a story about stories? Well Douglas Rintoul and the talented company from Transport have the answer – you tell it with three charming, engaging actors, with lights, with sound effects, an all-encompassing use of set, projections and….farts.

The young audience at this 10.30am performance was enthralled – chattering excitedly beforehand; the noise sinking to a respectful hush as the delightful Danusia Samal, playing Shahrazad picked up the big red storybook that had been pulsing, a living breathing entity, under a single spotlight.

By interweaving a recognisable modern refugee tale with ancient stories, the audience was treated to the infinite possibilities of the story as a means to delight, to cure, to forge friendships and to unite.

The play begins with a warm domestic scene – the exasperated mother (Ritu Arya) and  father (Thomas Padden) coaxing their bookworm daughter  Shahrazad to the table. This is a close family – joined by love and stories. But the three are ripped apart by war – father and daughter escape to England while mother is forced to stay behind because she does not have a passport.

In her loneliness and isolation, Shahrazad makes friend with the neighbour by re-enacting stories that transcend the language and cultural barrier. Using saucepans for crowns, old pipes for a magical telescope and most effectively, an old mop for a magic carpet, the pair tell their tales, escaping from the grimy reality of life.

The audience loved every second of it – standing up in their seats to catch a glimpse of the ‘chasm’;  cheering when the king won his queen and reacting with wonder every time as the number of nights flashed up on a screen. There were laughs, cheers and possibly even a tear (from the adults) at the brilliantly executed ending – a superb example of collaborative working to tell a story.

Once again the Unicorn triumphs – and what made this particular performance so enjoyable was the insight session with the actors and assistant director Natasha Jenkins, who answered the young questioners with great respect.

1001 Nights is running in rep until March 17th alongside Liar Liar, a newly-commissioned piece by E V Crowe for audiences aged 13 upwards. Comprehensive teacher resource packs are available for both.