- Miles Hedley
THE LITTLE PRINCE at Woolwich Works
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Luca Silvestrini pulled out all the stops when he decided to adapt The Little Prince for his company Protein Dance by turning what was already a fabulously enigmatic modern fairytale into the stage equivalent of a multimedia artwork that magically appeals to every age group.
I watched the show at Woolwich Works – Protein’s new home – with an audience that ranged from toddlers to grandparents. And it was blindingly obvious that we were all spellbound by this cocktail of music, dance, song, spoken word and moving pictures that perfectly distilled the spirit of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s hymn to friendship.
Kids always love the story because on one level it’s a space-travelling adventure with a cast of absurdist characters including a vain rose, a king with no one to rule, an obsessed businessman, a Sisyphean lamplighter, a geographer who’s never been anywhere and, once the prince reaches Earth, a fox desperate to be tamed, a sneaky snake and a pilot who has crashed in the Sahara.
And adults love the story equally because it is also a furious critique of humanity’s materialism, wastefulness and self-seeking and has an intriguingly mysterious ending.
Silvestrini makes the most of this ambiguity, giving both readings similar weight with the help of his collaborators’ contributions - a great genre-hopping score by Frank Moon, a wonderful set by Yann Seabra, terrific video graphics by Daniel Denton and the superlative input of his four-strong cast.
Faith Prendergast was simply enchanting in the title role, Simon Palmer (above with Faith) was suitably mysterious as the downed pilot while Andrew Gardiner and Donna Lennard never missed a beat as they sang, danced, spoke and made multiple costume changes in the show’s other eight roles.
The Little Prince lasts only an hour but it manages to squeeze in as much fun and philosophy as other works struggle to contain in twice the time. I came away buzzing and filled with envy for any child who had just had their first experience of live performance – what a fantastic and fantastical way to find out about the wonders of the theatre.