The Little Prince

Posted on: 07 January 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Laurence Green reviews Anthony Clark’s adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s children’s classic, The Little Prince at the Hampstead Theatre.

A magical fable about the extraordinary power of the imagination and the indestructible bond of friendship is how you could describe Anthony Clark’s stage adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s children’s classic, The Little Prince  showing at Hampstead Theatre.

A pilot is forced to crash land in the Sahara Desert. While he tries to fix his plane a child who claims to be from a different planet appears.

The two become friends as the Little Prince entertains the pilot with stories of why he had to leave his home and all the curious characters - including a businessman who lost all his savings when his bank went bust - he has met on his journey to Earth. His main message is, “it is only with the heart that one can see”.

First published in France in 1943, Saint-Exupéry’s work has some startling contemporary references. But his production with music by Mark Vibrans, a version of which was first performed 22 years ago, lacks subtlety and has an unnecessarily slow pace.

I had the feeling at times that Anthony Clark was unsure whether to aim the production specifically at young children or to an audience of all ages. Furthermore he unwisely resorts to pantomime effects such as the character who invites the audience to clap whenever he removes his hat, rather than explore the ideas contained in the play. 

Nevertheless, Saint-Exupéry’s satire on human greed, life and mortality and the destruction of the environment still have some bite and strike a topical chord.

The cast including Julie Alanah-Brighten, Simon Robson and Jade Williams bring a charm and conviction to the production. But it is the imaginative sets and effects such as the large aeroplane propeller representing the crashed plane, a flower with a female face, twinkling lights that give a fairytale feel, symbolising stars and especially a row of parasols strewn with roses that are the most appealing aspects of the production.

By Laurence Green

Show Details

Plays until: 10th January 2009

Where: The Hampstead Theatre

Box Office: 020 7722 9301

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