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.