Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Number of Reasons to Avoid "1001" at Berkeley City Club

Posted By on Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 10:50 AM

click to enlarge Pictured: Rachel Rajput and Anthony Nemirovsky - PHOTO BY JAY YAMADA
  • Photo by Jay Yamada
  • Pictured: Rachel Rajput and Anthony Nemirovsky

Scheherazade, the Persian queen at the center of One Thousand and One Nights, tells story after story in order to stay alive. Her life is the dream of any masochistic artist: each night brings a new deadline, and she needs to keep spinning out narratives if she wants to keep her head.

Jason Grote's play 1001, now making its Bay Area premiere at the Berkeley City Club, offers a particularly inventive take on Scheherazade's story. Alternating between the Persian past and the American present, exploring both well-known tales and contemporary politics, it's a wide-ranging piece with a huge amount of potential. In this particular production, however, potential is all you're gonna get.

Grote's script requires fairly elaborate costumes and sophisticated stagecraft -- he barrels through an impressive number of eras and storylines in just 90 minutes. That isn't necessarily a dealbreaker for a super-low budget production like this one; it just means that director Jonathan Spector needs to find clever ways to maximize what he's got.

He should've maximized a little more. Much of the show looks like a school pageant. Spector also has trouble with pacing and tone -- the show feels awfully long for 90 minutes, and he seems unsure how to produce dramatic effects without giving the audience an unsubtle nudge.

It may be that Grote's text is the source of some of the problems here. But I don't think so. This simply seems to be a case where a director can't get control over a complex and difficult play.

  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

About The Author

Chris Jensen


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"