Sinbad: the Untold Tale is based on the errant adventures of a mild mannered, even trepidatious porter, who just happens to have the same name as the famous sailor. The two Sinbads cross paths when the Porter is selected to deliver a cherished box to the Sailor, guarding it with his life, since death will befall him anyway if he’s not successful.
The Porter maneuvers through all kinds of unscrupulous traders and thieves in the streets of Bagdad and with wit and determination, delivers the cherished object. Before he’s able to back out of the door and return to his quiet life, he finds himself in increasingly dire situations, each one defying escape. The most dangerous is posed by a sorceress who has blanketed the city with a mysterious cloud threatening doom for all. How is a lowly street urchin expected to rise to the occasion to save the city?
The fun script by Charles Way based on the classic tale, twists and turns and director Janet Stanford assures a fun-filled experience with every nail-biting moment. Imagination runs deep into the crevices of the stage, designed with Eastern motifs by the multi-talented Natsu Onoda Power. The actors move colorful blocks into formation creating scenes of a busy marketplace bazaar one minute then with a few quick twists the actors are looking out from a bow of a ship. Also, actors carrying poster sticks of tiny replicas of cities and villages gave the illusion of sites along the horizon far away. Very effective.
Ricardo Frederick Evans is masterful as the elder Sinbad the Sailor full of exciting stories that he readily shares with anyone around. Yet, for some reason, he’s mysteriously silent in releasing any details about his beloved daughter’s mother, despite the girl’s desperate pleas and entreaties over the years. The tales unfold revealing bits of information with just enough intrigue for us to want more and more. Also, the power of illusion runs deep in this seemingly simple piece since everywhere you turn, something that you thought was one thing turns out to be something else. For example, the three things that the elder Sinbad needed so urgently transported in the box morphed into very different and poignant items by the end.
As Sinbad the Porter, Christopher Wilson is a comedic wonder with his playful expressions, exquisite timing and delivery. Reminding me of a young Zach Braff, Wilson imbues the young Sinbad with a sweetly disarming approach to life. You really feel his struggle when confronted with the options –he could remain in the limited social caste he was born into, drifting through life without responsibility or the strain of expectations. Or—he could take a step towards fulfillment by accepting the challenge of becoming a more responsible person and friend.
The script is filled with opportunities for both the young Sinbad and Ittifaq, the elder Sailor’s impetuous daughter, nicely played by Courtney Ferguson, to find a way to work together and get through the adventures on the treacherous seas, including fighting skeleton pirates. Move over Johnny Depp because these characters, coached by fight director Casey Kaleba bring some dastardly moves to their swashbuckling!
Ittifaq’s first entrance is with sword in hand, practicing her moves, so you know she means business and knows the importance of practice. Not for the faint hearted, the show threatens death in numerous segments, and the menacing creatures are no joke.
Veteran actor Rafael Untalan is joined by Sarah Pretz and Wood Van Meter who anchor their characters with depth and intention.
Helen Hayes award winning Kendra Rai’s amazing costumes add an eerie effect when strange wing-tipped creatures flutter, fabric rippling in the wind. Sound and lights by Christopher Baine and Zachary Gilbert coordinate with perfect precision as the colors of the blue splashing water swirl into a spiraled vortex capsizing the ship for more adventure.
SINBAD: THE UNTOLD TALE
April 8 – May 29
4908 Auburn Avenue
1 hour, 30 minutes with 1 intermission
Tickets: $10 – $35
Tuesdays thru Sundays
Details and Tickets or call 301-280-1660
Sinbad the Porter paved the way for forgiveness and even liberated the Genie from his bondage instead of grabbing perpetual goodies as in traditional tales. This version also relays that while you can’t go back and undo a wrong, you can take steps to keep from perpetrating the ill effects. Also, in a meaningful Middle Eastern analogy, be careful what’s in your brain, or the “magic box,” because your thoughts can pave the way to salvation or destruction–it’s a slippery slope that can slide from illusion to delusion. The production handles such philosophical theorems with playfulness and whimsy, while getting across these significant messages.
The non-stop adventures build to a crescendo when Ittifaq is left seemingly abandoned as she watches her buddy’s ship sail away to safety with no rescue in sight. That’s when lessons about the importance of good choices and loyalty also kick in. The duo’s funny antics trying to get their carpet to fly sweetly wraps up the enchantment with messages that will linger along with the sights and sounds of a distant world.
All told, Sinbad: The Untold Tale contains a boatload of memorable moments and is loads of fun.
Sinbad: the Untold Tale by Charles Way . Directed by Janet Stanford . Featuring Christopher Wilson, Courtney Ferguson, Ricardo Frederick Evans, Sarah Pretz, Wood Van Meter, and Rafael Untalan. Set design: Natsu Onoda Power . Costume design: Kendra Rai . Sound design: Christopher Baine . Lighting design: Zachary Gilbert . Movement: Casey Kaleba . Produced by Imagination Stage . Reviewed by Debbie Jackson.