The Little Prince
Adapted by Simon Clarke
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
REVIEW MELANIE CORAM
Spare Parts' winter show is a chance to travel in time and space with a much- loved classic, The Little Prince.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's story of a pilot crashed in the Sahara and an odd, caped little fellow has charmed millions since 1943. Like the pilot, the Little Prince seems to have fallen from the sky, from a planet far away.
"Draw me a sheep," the prince asks the harried pilot, who has more pressing things on his mind. The pilot gives in, draws some sheep, and so starts a beautiful tale of friendship, loneliness, nature and beauty.
The show, adapted by Simon Clarke and directed by Michael Barlow, was first performed in 2007. This Freo version, with actor-puppeteers Jacob Lehrer and Jessica Lewis, packs The Little Prince inside another, more modern tale of warehouse workers unloading the crate and telling a story.
The adults are, in the main, preoccupied with the wrong things, as adults often are. They relish power and money and mobile phones but fail to appreciate things of true value. We may all be lost, the little prince shows us, but as long as we keep an eye on the important things, we can find our way home.
There are no belly laughs here, no pratfalls or cheap giggles. Most of the light relief comes from the outer shell story of the warehouse crew. As with the pilot and the prince, they overcome wrongheaded fixations to become friends. Their comic relationship may have been why the warehouse scenes were included but the show would have been as enjoyable without them.
The Little Prince novella is noted for its whimsy. This show, with its muted set and lean production, favours oddness over extravagance.
Just as the story is a sum of intricate parts, the set is made up of discrete objects which neatly fit together to form a rustic timber crate, which you would find strewn in the desert after an aircraft crash. The box unfolds, layer by layer, revealing delightful cabinetry - and another adventure - within.
This is a play pitched to the 4-12 age group but it contains meditations on homesickness and otherness suited to all ages.
The Little Prince runs until July 19.