The Week on Stage is a monthly event organized by Istanbul-based theatre criticism platform, Tiyatro Incelemeleri. Every month, they explore the most talked-about productions on stage in Istanbul and publish their reviews online. Their April/ May edition featured three very different productions: Guys and Dolls, Beyond Than the Furthest Thing, and Marjorie Prime.

Guys and Dolls is a musical comedy written by Frank Loesser and based on the short stories by Damon Runyon. It premiered on Broadway in 1950 and has since become a classic of the musical theatre genre. The Turkish adaptation, which premiered in October 2020, is directed by Levent Öktem and stars Arda Aydın, Bora Başkan, Başak Daşman, Baran Can Eraslan, Çağlar Çorumlu, and many other famous names from the Turkish theatre scene.

The story revolves around the hustle and bustle of New York City’s underworld, offering a glimpse into the lives of gamblers, gangsters, and their women. The main plot centers around Nathan Detroit, a notorious gambler who needs money to set up a floating crap game, and his girlfriend of 14 years, Adelaide, who is fed up with him and wants him to settle down. Meanwhile, a professional gambler named Sky Masterson sets his sights on a charming and pious missionary named Sarah Brown, who is determined to save the souls of sinners like him.

The Week on Stage praised Guys and Dolls for its fast-paced choreography, dazzling costumes, and infectious music. “It’s impossible not to get swept up in the energy and excitement of the show,” they wrote. They also commended the actors for their impeccable timing and comic timing, especially Arda Aydın’s portrayal of Nathan Detroit and Başak Daşman’s Adelaide.

Beyond Than the Furthest Thing is a play by British playwright Zinnie Harris. It premiered in 1998 at the Royal National Theatre in London and has since been performed in various countries around the world. The Turkish adaptation, which premiered in March 2021, is directed by Ferdi Çetin and stars Yıldız Kültür, İbrahim Selim, Özlem Başkan, and Mustafa Uzunyılmaz.

The play is set on an isolated island in the South Atlantic, where a small community of British expats struggles to adapt to the harsh and unforgiving environment. The arrival of a group of scientists tasked with studying the island’s geology and ecology disturbs the fragile equilibrium of the community and leads to tragic consequences.

The Week on Stage described Beyond Than the Furthest Thing as a “haunting and poetic exploration of identity, loss, and displacement.” They praised the minimalist set design, which evokes the desolate beauty of the island, and the powerful acting of the cast, especially İbrahim Selim’s portrayal of the troubled islander, Enoch, and Yıldız Kültür’s nuanced performance as his wife, Judith.

Marjorie Prime is a play by American playwright Jordan Harrison. It premiered in 2014 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and has been performed Off-Broadway and in various other countries. The Turkish adaptation, which premiered in April 2021, is directed by Armağan Oğuz and stars Şebnem Sönmez, Yiğit Özşener, Elit İşcan, and Taner Birsel.

The play is set in the near future, where artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where it is possible to create “prime” versions of deceased loved ones, who appear as realistic and intelligent holograms. Marjorie, an elderly woman suffering from dementia, spends her days talking to her “prime” husband, Walter, who appears as he was 50 years ago. As the play unfolds, we learn more about Marjorie’s past and the complex relationships between her and her family members, who all have their reasons for wanting to keep her memories alive.

The Week on Stage called Marjorie Prime a “thought-provoking and emotionally charged drama that raises profound questions about memory, identity, and the nature of love.” They praised the actors for their naturalistic performances and the intimate staging, which draws the audience into the intimate world of the characters.

In conclusion, The Week on Stage provides valuable insights into the most exciting productions on stage in Istanbul, offering a range of perspectives on each production and providing an essential platform for the Turkish theatre community to connect and engage with each other.