I haven’t been to The Place since I was 17, so it’s a true pleasure to be back here seeing such a beautiful story that’s a core part of so many people’s childhoods.
The Little Prince, originally written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, tells the story of a Little Prince who has come to earth from his house-sized planet, also known as Asteroid B 612.
This adaptation is primarily aimed at children, many of whom are accompanied by their designated adult, however, as I sit in the third row on my own I embrace the inner child that this show wants me to find.
Yann Seabra’s set is simple and beautiful. In the beginning a light, sheer curtain forms a screen to shield the set behind, but this quickly falls to reveal to us a collection of white orbs varying in size between a large egg big enough to fully encompass a human, and a small one which a cat could sleep in.
First we meet the Pilot, Kip Johnson, who has crash landed in the desert and needs to fix his aircraft – this aircraft is a small, white, paper airplane which has unfolded into a crumpled sheet. The Pilot meets the Little Prince, Faith Predergast, who is perfectly cast as our hero. Predergast is small and has petite facial features, and beautifully embodies the cartoon that we know so well. Seabra, again, should be praised for the Prince’s costume. Our hero wears a coat with golden stars shooting off the shoulders and a bright blue body. Underneath, his explorer outfit in a khaki colour highlights his beautiful “golden hair”, which is noted in the book and this show.
This is a story told through dance: Prendergast’s physicality as the Prince rolls giggling on the floor, flying through space carried by Johnson, or clambering over the orbs creates a story of levels and depth that exceeds the small space of this theatre.
The Prince meets a variety of characters in his journey across the Universe including a Garden of Roses, a Fox, a Snake, and a King with no subjects who purely orders The Prince and the audience to do whatever they are already doing; much to the children in the audience’s amusement.
Whilst the Pilot tries to fix his plane, The Prince shares his stories of all these people he has met on his journey to find happiness, but eventually to return to his home, where a Rose he is both besotted by and exhausted by awaits him.
My particular praise in this performance goes to Donna Leonard who performs six different roles in the hour of the show and her physicality varies so much between the Businessman obsessed with owning the stars, and the snake who has the most rhythmic and sensual hiss I have ever seen.
I must note Daniel Denton’s beautiful images that are projected during this play onto the cyclorama at the back. These moving sketches of the Prince’s sheep, birds pulling him through space, and the growth of the Roses, paint the book onto the stage.
The key message of The Little Prince is to enjoy the small things in life, and what message could be more important amongst the ridiculous levels of consumerism which can be associated with Christmas. I leave with a smile on my face and a lifted heart, and also my very own paper airplane which was included with my programme.
The Little Prince played at The Place until 24 December. For more information, visit The Place website.