Sparkles, sweets, and singing; dancing, toys and music – sounds like a standard children’s show. Princess Charming, however, is an urgently needed cabaret. Not because of the joy it brings (which is a lot), but because it breaks down the little gendered boxes that children are unknowingly conditioned in to from the word GO.
Conscious of its performance, the enchanting Alexander Luttley (Alex) and Charlotte Worthing (Charlie) have a stage dynamic that is energising, fun and hilarious. They spin a web of fun, changing rapidly from character to character. Luttley and Worthing keep up a constant, thrilling energy with every act outshining the last: a hijacked performing princess, a hula-hooping-ukulele- singing tomboy and a fantastic feathered dance piece.
Moments to highlight are probably the seamless wheeling off of the mime-kitchen, and the “Reductive Fairy-tale Company” sketch (aka the RFC), in which Worthing and Luttley show us their “proper serious acting”, going through every children’s story at breakneck speed, swapping hats and getting married 100 times in 100 innovative ways. It’s hilarious.
There were even moments when I felt like crying. Despite the light-hearted, fun-filled performance, the backdrop of this piece is a serious issue. Luttley has a moment in which he becomes more thoughtful, addressing us as himself. He tells of his emotions as a child who didn’t feel like he fitted in. Then he tells us of about his adult-self who wasn’t allowed into an Uber last week because he was dressed as a woman.
An almost disturbing and strangely powerful scene was Jane’s birthday sketch. She begins empowered by the words of Beyoncé, thrilled that it’s her birthday. Every birthday that passes, she is given a box of presents. By the end, she is still singing, but we can’t see her face or hear her muffled words. She is buried in a mountain of pink presents: handbags, makeup, Vanish powder, a feather duster, a broom and then, a baby. It was an incredible visual metaphor for her loss of identity, as she got older. Those around her, who are acting under pre-decided stereotypes and ideals that they haven’t stepped back to question, have conditioned her innocently and unknowingly.
What Spun Glass Theatre has done is give children, every child, a voice. It is pertinent and powerful, but most of all it’s extremely fun! Princess Charming teaches kids (and adults) that they can just be themselves.
Ending on a beautiful note we are shown sticker-books that were bought just last week: GIRL’S STICKERS and BOY’S STICKERS. Charlie takes us through her kitchen, clothes and princesses. Alex shows us his ships, castles and guns. Then, they share, sticking them on each other in an image of cooperation and harmony. Alex gets his dinner, Worthing gets her car and they walk off covered in stickers, dressed in arrays of pink and blue.
Photo: Vix Paine