Original novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translation, script, songs and music by Judith Clingan. Directed by Rohan Vicars and Judith Clingan. Music direction Judith Clingan. Wayfarers Australia. Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Wed Dec 20 at 7pm. Thurs-Fri Dec 21-22 at 2pm. Tickets https://www.trybooking.com/STMQ
|Photo - Peter Hislop
This version of The Little Prince is a perceptive treatment of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s strange and surreal tale, supported by the intuitive music of Judith Clingan. A large cast of children, adults, puppets (by Raphaela Mazzone) and young people brings a particular kind of magic to the story of the Prince (Siggy Nock) who lives on a tiny planet. His views of the universe at first seem challenging and somewhat strange.
The Prince’s only company appears to be the Rose (Ellen Brown), a gorgeous flower that he tends with as much care as he removes invasive growths.
The crash of the Aviator (Rohan Vicars) on that planet and a rift with the Rose sends the Prince off on an exploration of other planets (including Earth) and they and their inhabitants are in their own ways as strange as his. There’s one where a King (Chris Nock) seems to rule no subjects. There’s another where a Vain Man (Ian Parker) seems locked into an eternal selfie, and yet another where a Drunkard (Gill Christie) is imprisoned in a cycle of alcohol. The Businessman (William Luby) counts and logs and puts a price on the stars rather than truly see them. The Lamplighter (Jem Nock) struggles to do his job on a planet with frequent sunsets. The Geographer (Henry Polotnianka) records natural features but does not join the Explorer (Minnie [Yen-Ling] Lin)) who enthusiastically reports on them. The Small Flower (Thea Nock) gives the Prince valuable insights into the world of flowers and of the Rose. The Shopgirls (Ruby Wildermuth and Hayley Robins) offer to sell him an artificial alternative to water. And the Railway Switchman (Meka Cian Rakhmat) is oblivious to the wonder of the children who marvel at what they see from the train windows.
|Photo - Peter Hislop
The Aviator also draws pictures and the Young Aviator (Tom Howieson) and his teachers ( Margot Baker and Hayley Robins) show how hard it can be to retain the vision of a child. And the little fable of the Turkish (Meka Cian Rakhmat) and European (Marcel Cole and Noah Aziz-Parker) Astronomers raises the question of just who is allowed to make discoveries.
Standing out in great company are Ellen Brown’s clear voiced Rose, Ginny Hicks’ sinister and minimalist Snake and Marcel Cole as the Fox who longs so winningly to be tamed. And as the Little Prince himself Siggy Nock has presence and charm and a costume and hairdo that are just right.
The compact raked Tuggeranong Theatre suits this spare show very well. The shadowy orchestra under Clingan’s sensitive direction rim the front of the audience banks. Musicians slip out of role on stage to unobtrusively join the orchestra, and then slip back on stage again. Singers materialise in the darkness behind audience in the theatre’s two tiny balconies.
This is a splendid version of a classic that talks about the value of things, relationships, resources, water. The puppetry from the Fox and the Rose and the Snake to the plane flight that opens the tale is ingenious. The staging is impeccable, the acting leavened with a touch of humour and the voices true. One has the feeling that Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s story is in the best of hands.