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Time to Take a Final Bow and Say Good 'Night'


A remounting of the acclaimed 1993 solo show starring Ron Campbell, "The Thousandth Night (Monsieur Shaherazad)" at Stages examines the invidiousness of moral neutrality, especially when that neutrality is inspired by fear.

Guy du Bonheur, a French actor who has been denounced as a dissident by the Nazis, faces imminent deportation to a concentration camp in Poland. Frantic to escape his fate, Guy stages an impromptu performance at the railway station where he awaits the death train. He hopes that his "little plays," exuberant renditions of classic Arabic folk tales, will charm the Vichy officials assembled there into letting him go free.

A slim hope is better than none--but, as Guy soon learns, false hope is exquisite torture. A run-of-the-mill actor, Guy has never achieved any real distinction in his profession. Now, he reaches the apotheosis of his craft, acting with the genius born of desperation. Like Scheherazade spinning tales for her sultan, Guy performs--literally--for his life.

Carol Wolf's challenging play requires an actor with the comic expertise of a master mime and the emotional range of a seasoned tragedian. Under Jessica Kubzansky's inspired direction, the virtuosically amusing Campbell mimes and mugs his way through dozens of different characters in a protean performance. Like the desperate character he plays, Campbell is an actor at the absolute pinnacle of his powers.

For Guy, cowed into acquiescence by his terror of the Nazis, the poignant realization that he has actively participated in his own demise comes too late. This production--and Campbell's heroic performance--are timely reminders of the high price of silence.


"The Thousandth Night (Monsieur Shaherazad)," Stages, 1540 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. Fridays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends May 31. $15. (213) 465-1010. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

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