REVIEW – Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn

*****

Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn is a physical theatre piece, with original music, telling the tale of Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s visitor from another planet. The immense charm of the original does not translate to the stage here, even though there is a feeling that this should be possible.

Three performers, with the occasional addition on stage of a musician otherwise engaged on a laptop, move through the space before projections, often of galaxies and occasionally of landscape. Much movement is Suzuki based, seen in specific ways of walking, which can be fascinating to watch, but need more meaning than embodied here and became boringly repetitive for travelling through space, rather than the repetition wished for, which holds attention and reinforces ideas.

This is not billed as a children’s show, but is based on a children’s book (albeit the book speaks to all ages), so such can be expected if not discouraged. The lone child in the small audience had to continually ask what was happening and this is a sign of the emptiness of much of what was presented. Also, for those that do know the story, what the Little Prince receives finally, before going home, wasn’t even addressed – a huge loss.

The company does make use of its red and white props, with touches of gold, if in more of a utilitarian manner rather than an inspired one. A top hat, yellow scarf, red beard and rose, among other accessories, help form characters, and round white balloon lamps feature, with sparks within them adding to the different washes of colour from the lights, which featured apt blue, red and yellow states.

There were also flashes of life in characterisations, one of the performers being much more skilled in these than in his overly ‘spiritual’ way of moving, and there were signs of physical skills for both the Little Prince and his rose that it would have been wonderful to see more fully explored: for her, further development of flamenco movement, and for him the addition of liveliness to his fine control. The pedestrian pace of the entire piece seems to owe something to a feeling that the company is overly earnest in what it is doing. The Little Prince is very much about life, vivacity and the ability to find joy – in bringing it to the stage, there is a great need for playfulness and this is sadly lacking here.

A few tender moments do occur, including at the end, and a pas-de-deux between the Prince and his rose achieved what the rest needs to find: a way of showing what is going on that does not rely on a few simple expositionary sentences that try to encapsulate Saint-Exupéry’s wonderful philosophies without managing to create the context in which these statements can flourish.

Starchild: The Little Prince Reborn does not have enough change of pace, nor connection to the heart of its material, to delight as the tale should. It is obvious that hard work has gone into creating this piece, but the work is evident and the joy – so essential to the story – is not.

1-16 August (not 3, 10), 12:40 (13:35) @ Greenside @ Nicolson Square

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