Eliet, David F. The Oldest Story Ever Told. Anchorage, 2000. ISBN 0-87602-377-4. 43 pp. A- 1-12Reviewed by Wendy Simmerman This play is a clever and innovative approach to several fairy tales, woven together seamlessly. The basic story is that of Cinderella, but the play incorporates multiple versions of the story from different parts of the world. Myths from China, India, and Africa are presented in a way that educates the audience while remaining energetic and entertaining. Many scenes occur simultaneously onstage, which creates a blending of stories that works quite well and emphasizes similarities while celebrating diversity. As few as four actors can stage this piece, or many parts may be provided for over fourteen actors. The four-person cast calls for two male and two female actors, although gender is non-specific for many of the roles. No set directions are given, although the set does call for items such as puppets, a few small hand props, and sheets of fabric to create rivers. The play is open enough for a very simple, minimal production, or a large-scale, elaborate staging. A song is written for the show, and simple accompaniment is provided. The song is rather long and is repeated many times, which might disrupt the energy level of the show. The broad approach of this script makes it ideal for a wide range of ages. The humor and energy of the piece would probably appeal to high school students, while the story is simple and clear enough that young grade school students would be able to perform it and enjoy watching it. The Oldest Story Ever Told offers a fun and entertaining way to look at multiculturalism and the myths that pervade a society.
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