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The Little Prince review at the Playground Theatre, London – ‘meandering’

Martin Oelbermann in The Little Prince at the Playground Theatre, London

Martin Oelbermann’s new production of The Little Prince isn’t so much an adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic as an act of narration. Oelbermann’s performance doesn’t contain enough physical energy or vocal variation to guide the audience through the story’s different planets and characters. It has a very static quality – it never becomes anything more than a man standing on a stage telling a story.

The projections, which animate the original illustrations from Saint-Exupery’s novella, are also clunky. They do little to solve the problem of the meandering pace.

Oelbermann employs some physical variation to stop things feeling monotonous. But The Little Prince only gains a sense of urgency when he steps out of the frame he has made for himself; when he steps into the audience or when he disappears from the audience’s view.

Alison Neighbour’s design is the show’s saving grace. The auditorium is covered in paper, from the walls to the chairs. A canvas hangs behind the stage and it crumples like paper when it falls. The best moments are when the illustrations in the projections explode into life: pixelated stars become real (paper) stars that hang from the ceiling and cast reflections and shadows – but Oelbermann’s performance isn’t strong enough to bring the little prince to life.

Verdict
Static and monotonous staging of the classic story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Production

Production
The Little Prince
Venue
Playground
City
London
Starts
December 15, 2017
Ends
January 7, 2018
Press night
December 18, 2017
Authors
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Translation
Ros Schwartz and Chloe Schwartz
Director
Martin Oelbermann
Choreographer
Mimosa Percy
Set
Alison Neighbour
Lighting
Alison Neighbour
Stage manager
Holly Marsh
Cast includes
Martin Oelbermann
Producer
Playground Theatre
Running time
1hrs 30mins