Review: The Dead Prince

Last night, we went to see Strange Tree’s The Dead Prince at the DCASE Theatre (the one affiliated with the Cultural Center). It was delightful, imaginative, and worth seeing. Sadly, it ends on Sunday.

Strange Tree is this Chicago based theatre troupe that puts on really interesting performances. I’ve seen three of their shows all written by award-winning Emily Schwartz and she’s really a fantastic playwright. My favorite of their plays (Strange Tree and Ms. Schwartz) is the Jeff award-winning Three Faces of Dr. Crippen about a man in the Victorian era who kills his wives. The main character, Dr. Crippen, is played by three actors…sometimes at the same time.  You actually come to sympathize with him which is really a feat for me. There is much mischief in this play.

The troupe and Schwartz also did A Spirit Play which also takes place in the Victorian era. It’s about a fake medium and her brother who insert themselves into a believing family…with unintended effects. It’s delightfully thrilling at times and touching at others.

Emily Schwartz also wrote one of the plays in the recent Unwilling and Hostile Instruments which was about seven women in Chicago’s history. She wrote my favorite of the seven plays about Cora Strayer, an exuberant female detective in the early 1900s. It’s full of bombast and drama as one would expect from the life of Cora Strayer.

The Dead Prince is a worthy addition to their respective repertoire. It’s a fairy tale musical about a princess who has a curse upon her: her true love has passed away before they’ve even met. So with the aid of an evil magic mirror, she goes on a quest to seek her beloved from the dead. It’s really my cup of tea. Did I mention there was an evil magic mirror? He sings  about how great it is to have an evil friend. There are puppets galore; there is even a song about bats.  There’s a fair amount of slapstick and even dismembered limbs. It’s a wonderful play about fate and choices.

If you can, go and see it before it ends. On the bright side, it appears they are bringing back The Three Faces of Dr. Crippen in 2014. So if you can’t make it by Sunday, you’ll have a chance to see the other play next year.


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