×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

1001

The Gotham premiere of Jason Grote's "1001" has the perfect website: A section called "Enter the Story" contains a fake newspaper filled with headlines about the near future, but links for individual articles lead to everything from Grote's MySpace page to an email inbox for a fictional character.

With:
Scheherazade, Dahna - Roxanna Hope Shahriyar, Alan - Matthew Rauch

The Gotham premiere of Jason Grote’s “1001” has the perfect website: A section called “Enter the Story” contains a fake newspaper filled with headlines about the near future, but links for individual articles lead to everything from Grote’s MySpace page to an email inbox for a fictional character. You think you’re getting one story, and then another one appears, but the fractured pieces create a single, massive tale. That’s exactly what happens in the production, which offers a wild and beautiful glimpse at the yarns that shape our lives.

On the simplest level, Grote is adapting “1001 Arabian Nights,” in which Scheherazade (Roxanna Hope) keeps her bloodthirsty husband, King Shahriyar (Matthew Rauch), from killing her by telling him a different story every evening. She invokes classic figures — including Sinbad of the Seven Seas (Jonathan Hova) — but she also tells of Alan and Dahna, a modern-day Jewish man and Arab woman, also played by Rauch and Hope, who have a troubled love affair in New York.

The Scheherazade/Shahriyar and Dahna/Alan plots have plenty of parallels, but they are only part of the point. The bigger theme is storytelling itself, and how humans understand history by forcing everything into a tidy narrative structure. Even if it isn’t always true, the story we keep telling — about the power of love, violence, and death — is a comfort.

Grote tackles that concept with gripping imagination, achieving a cosmic scope by eliminating the barriers between worlds. King Shahriyar can use modern slang, and while she’s standing in her apartment, Dahna can reach through time and pick up an ancient sword.

Director Ethan McSweeny, who helmed the play’s world premiere in February for Denver Center Theater Company, keeps tight control over the narrative. Time and space shift in a moment, but it’s always clear where we are.

With his design team, McSweeny also translates ambitious stage directions into dynamic visuals.

As Alan and Dahna dance at a club, for instance, the other cast members carry on an enormous blue cloth, which they hurl upwards like a parachute. As the cloth falls, we expect it to drape around bodies, but it settles to the floor as though nothing were beneath it. Then, in a far corner, we see Alan using the fabric as a blanket. Only now he’s Shahriyar, and we’ve gone back in time. That image not only surprises, but also enhances the theme of fluidity.

Elsewhere, McSweeny smooths the script’s roughest edges. Grote often gives characters transitional monologues about the stories we’ll be hearing, and their purple descriptions get ridiculously overwrought. However, as the narrator stands in place, the other actors scurry like mad, changing costumes or hurling sets into place. The monologues feel vital because we watch how they summon a world into being.

And every realm gets its own acting style. The supporting cast nimbly plays everything from melodrama to farce, creating detailed personas at every turn.

Meanwhile, Hope and Rauch ground the troupe. Scheherazade’s grandeur and Alan’s gentle kindness run through the production like a spine. Anchors like those make it easy to travel through this constantly shifting play.

1001

Baruch Performing Arts Center; 99 seats; $35 top

Production: A Page 73 Prods. presentation in association with Doug Nevin, Caroline Prugh, and Erica Lynn Schwartz of a play in one act by Jason Grote. Directed by Ethan McSweeny.

Creative: Sets, Rachel Hauck; costumes, Murell Horton; lighting, Tyler Micoleau; original music, DJ Arisa Sound; sound, Lindsay Jones; production stage manager, Bonnie Brady. Opened Oct. 31, 2007. Reviewed Oct. 30. Running time: 1 HOUR, 50 MIN.

Cast: Scheherazade, Dahna - Roxanna Hope Shahriyar, Alan - Matthew RauchWith: Mia Barron, Drew Cortese, Jonathan Hova, John Livingstone Rolle.

More Legit

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • Daniel Radcliffe

    Listen: How Broadway Made Daniel Radcliffe a Better Actor

    Acting onstage has been a regular part of Daniel Radcliffe’s career for more than a decade — and the “Harry Potter” star says there’s a good reason for that: It’s made him better. “It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe said on the [...]

  • The Jungle review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Jungle'

    With the rumbling of semis careening by and the sound of Middle Eastern music in the distance, “The Jungle” aims to vividly immerse audiences into the world of the real-life migrant and refugee camp of the same name. By telling the story of the Jungle’s creation in Calais, France, in 2015, and its eventual destruction [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • 'Network' Review: Bryan Cranston Stars on

    Broadway Review: 'Network' With Bryan Cranston

    The 1976 film “Network” won four Academy Awards, including best original screenplay for writer Paddy Chayefsky, for its blistering portrayal of an American society fueled by greed and bloated on corruption. A haggard Peter Finch took the best actor trophy for his harrowing performance as Howard Beale, a TV newsman who is so disgusted by [...]

  • Faye DunawayVanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals,

    Faye Dunaway to Play Katharine Hepburn on Broadway

    Faye Dunaway will return to Broadway to play another acting diva. The Oscar-winner is set to portray Katharine Hepburn in “Tea at Five,” a one-woman play that charts the movie legend’s career over the course of a winding monologue. Dunaway last appeared on Broadway in 1982’s “The Curse of the Aching Heart.” In the 1990s, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content