[This is my take on/review of Schimmelpfennig's Arabian Night, the play that I will be performing in with the troupe I am working with. Coming up in February 2011.]
Schimmelpfennig's Arabian Night (Die arabische Nacht) brings together five characters who experience an erotic urban fantasy that occurs in an anonymous (probably imaginary) housing settlement somewhere in Germany. Between dreams and nightmares, the play is part fairy tale, part noir thriller and it tells the story of Franziska, a beautiful narcoleptic who combines imagery from Sleeping Beauty and The Arabian Nights to drag people into her nightmares; two migrant lovers, Fatima and Kalil, whose relationship change after Kalil gets stuck in an elevator, repeatedly cheats on Fatima with women living in the same building and ends up getting stabbed by her; Karpati, a voyeur who gets stuck in a bottle of brandy after kissing Franziska while she is sleeping; and Lomeier, the building's caretaker who yearns for the wife he lost years earlier. Their lives become intertwined on a hot summer evening when their building's water suddenly disappears and they are all drawn to desert fantasies in the apartment 7-32.
Somewhere, the narrative (if this play has such as thing as a narrative) keeps reminding us that we are each authors of our own fairy tales and tragedies. Just like the characters in the play, our lives twist and turn in and out of the narratives of our neighbours, lovers, friends... The dialogues remind us of Brechtian aesthetics with self-narrators looking at each other with disconnect while the quality of their fears, regrets and hopes merge into corresponding alienations.
With the blasé and the surreal interacting and merging in numerous instances, this play presents the claustrophobia and repetitiveness of everyday life. Absurdist and post-modern are the two words that sum it up, indeed!