Sunrise at Midnight tells three different stories based on Algerian folktales, interwoven together. One about a brother who left home and found a magic flute in a fish; one about a man who married the girl of his dreams, brought her back from the dead, and then returned her there; and one about a prince who married the most beautiful girl in the world and was cursed by her father. A creepy old man appears out of the bushes in all three stories, offering the protagonist a choice which often leads to undesired results, like a promise from the devil. The folktales, while specific to the Kabyle people in northern Algeria, feel familiar and share similar themes and motifs with folktales and legends told in cultures around the world.
Directed by Ryan Underbakke, the five-person cast (including creator Taous Claire Khazem, Transatlantic Love Affair company member Heather Bunch, Sandbox company member Theo Langason, Nora Montañez, and Mohammed Yabdri) tells the story with movement and physicality, and sometimes almost seems to move as one. This style makes the story more dynamic and alive, and easier to track various characters and stories through specific character choices. Everyone in the cast is incredibly playful, open, and expressive as they tell these stories that range from silly to tragic.
|this photo (by Tony Nelson) almost captures the fast|
movement and motion of the piece
At a brisk 60 minutes at an intimate space on a charming street in St. Paul, Sunrise at Midnight is a lovely and fascinating journey into the world of these traditional folktales, that most of us would never otherwise be able to visit. Playing through July 30.
*Read an interview with Taous by my colleague Kendra at Artfully Engaging.