On Friday night, we went to see the LookingGlass Theatre’s The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The book is one of my favorite stories since high school. For those of you who haven’t read it, go and read it. It’s about love, imagination, and adventure. What else do you want in life? Spoilers ahead.
The performance was lovely. I rather enjoyed it. I think they did a fine job at capturing the many elements of the book. However, it didn’t reach the same heights as their production of Alice in Wonderland a few years ago. Somehow that seemed even more magical, but it may be that I’m even more biased towards Alice. Or maybe it was the general energy of the show. I’m not sure. I was expecting more circus like with Alice but that was a part of the show. However, it probably wasn’t needed. It’s always tricky to have circus and dialogue as a rule.
There were many puppets: snake, birds, stars, and more. They represented the annoying baobob trees with hand puppets jutting out of the stage, muttering nonsense. It was perfect. Stars would twinkle down from overhead. The production also made use of bubbles, dropped sheets of crepe paper from overhead, and bounced giant brightly colored balls around the stage. At one point there was even a woman wearing a lit up earth on her head to show the Prince’s journey to Earth. Many actors doubled as musicians, playing a variety of instruments next to the stage. Or they would make sound effects like the murmuring the baobob trees.
The stage itself was a giant slightly folded blank page that was used simultaneously as a slide and a canvas for the Aviator to draw upon. I think it worked well. Moreover, actors and puppets would pop up through the stage unexpectedly, adding to the magic of the overall play.
The Prince’s journey from planet to planet was well assembled. The different people, like the king and the accountant, would descend from the ceiling on their respective planet from through the stage. The most effective was the lamplighter struggling to keep up with the pace of the planet, lighting and extinguishing his lamp every minute. The actor actually ran on top of a spinning planet, shouting “good morning” every time he turned on the lamp and “Good night” every time he shut it off. It really emphasized the plight of this man so beholden to his outdated orders.
Prince’s interaction with the Fox is my favorite part of the book and play. For me, the Fox is the most important since she talks about love and friendship. The notion of taming hits home to me every time. In the play, she really sold the idea that she was a fox (well a fox personified). She’d scratch her head, wag her tail, sniff audience members looking for chickens. She was so full of energy, which I think might have been lacking a bit in the rest of the play.
I would recommend The Little Prince. Check it out before the run ends in March.