By Anna Jin
The Little Prince is a unique performance by the dance company Protein. Artistic director Luca Silvestrini was inspired by the classic novella of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, adapted it into a lyrical performance for the stage.
The original story was narrated by a pilot who became stranded in a desert where he met a prince from a different planet. The Prince tells the pilot of his journey through the galaxy, and the many curious characters he encountered on his way. Protein’s production simplified its source material. In doing so, Protein created a light-hearted, charming performance to appeal to children.
The cast was small, so some actors played multiple side characters skilfully, such as a snake, a rose garden, and a geographer. The characters possessed distinct personalities, and it was difficult to tell that they were portrayed by the same actor.
The performers were all engaging. The lyrical performance was more focused on body movements than storytelling, and they grabbed the audience’s attention with their exaggerated body language and facial expressions. The performers sang simple melodies and executed many coordinated, whimsical dance numbers.
The set design was simple and similar to the line drawings from the original novella. The same images were projected on the screen in the background to create a fairytale-like atmosphere. The stage was effective in its simplicity – the only props present were white spheres of various sizes, representing planets. The actors interacted skilfully with the props. Some hid behind the balls, some emerged from inside them, and everybody danced gracefully around them.
The costumes of the main characters, the pilot and the Prince, were identical to the illustrations from the book. However, the costumes for the side characters were distinctly original. Everybody had exaggerated make-up and costumes that were colourful and well-made.
The pre-recorded background music was an original composition by Frank Moon. It complemented the charming live vocal performances. Some of the performers’ voices were altered to fit their roles, so they sounded less natural than if they sang with their real voices.
The lighting was delightful; it conveyed a magical mood on the stage that fit perfectly with the tone of the play. The lights would change colour every time the prince arrived on a different planet, and the change would occur subtly or dramatically, depending on the setting. Though no spotlights were used in this performance, the lighting drew attention to certain areas of the stage in subtler ways, such as through the use of shadows.
The performers moved freely on the stage; it was clear that they were familiar with their surroundings, and their movements seemed natural. However, one downside was that the stage was too big for their performance. Although the Quays Theatre is smaller than the Lyric Theatre, it still boasts a large stage. This production had only four actors, so even though they were skilled, large areas of the stage were always empty, because they could not fully utilise the area.
The Little Prince was a wholesome and enchanting performance that is sure to delight children. It ran at The Lowry Theatre until the 26th of November and tours the UK until the end of the year.
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