I can think of no nicer way to introduce a new generation to the Little Prince than with Luca Silvestrini’s delightful production of Saint-Exupéry’s classic story. Yann Seabra’s set of huge white spheres, exquisitely lit by Jackie Shemesh, is a work of art in itself. And, along with Daniel Denton’s charming projected animations, it provides a captivating backdrop for the storytelling.
The show starts with Andrew Gardiner as the Fox daring himself to get close to the young audience. This immediate engagement is continued by the Pilot, played with grace and charisma by Kip Johnson, who looks out front and says to the children: “Thank you for bringing your grown-ups.” He explains how when he was six he drew a picture that no-one understood. Everybody saw a hat or a mountain, instead of what it really was (a snake that had eaten an elephant).
With a paper plane in hand we watch as his light aircraft falters and falls and lands in the desert. This object manipulation is one of the delights of the show. While in the desert the Pilot meets the Little Prince, played with impish playfulness by Faith Prendergast, who immediately demands a drawing of a sheep. Before the pilot commences on his picture he shows the Little Prince his childhood drawing and the prince immediately gets what it is. A friendship is born and the Little Prince sets about delighting (and at times annoying) the Pilot with tales of his little planet and all the other planets he as visited.
The Little Prince’s tales are brought to life by Gardiner and Donna Lennard who create a host of memorable characters, with equally memorable costumes, which enhance the surreal and enigmatic qualities of the stories. There are moments of sheer delight, such as the singing solitary rose puppet and, later, the woman of multiple roses, complete with multiple voices. The dance is beautifully integrated, including beautiful contact work between the Pilot and the Prince as the story comes to an end.
My three critics range from 3 years old to 7 years old and each took something different away from the piece and their attention was held throughout.
Adapted and Directed by Luca Silvestrini
Devised and performed by Andrew Gardiner, Kip Johnson, Donna Lennard, Faith Prendergast
Pilot character devised by Jack Sergison and Karl Fagerlund Brekke
Associate Director Valentina Golfieri
Design by Yann Seabra
Music composed by Frank Moon
Lighting design by Jackie Shemesh
Video design by Daniel Denton
Associate video design by Hayley Egan
Production Manager Rachel Shipp
Sound Engineer Thomas Evans
Assistant Stage Manager Bethan Shaw
Co-commissioned by The Place and DanceEast. Supported by The Point, Eastleigh, Warwick Arts Centre and Dance City.
Until Tuesday December 24 at the Place. Touring from January to March 2020. For dates and venues check out the website: www.proteindance.co.uk