THE FROG PRINCESS
Runs 40min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 13 February 2011 at Little Angel Theatre.
Colourful and pleasantly enjoyable.
From Russia, via Edinburgh, comes this tale of puppet love. The Tsar’s three sons need brides, if only to help the Tsar ensure he has grandchildren. With no brides about, each is supplied with a curious arrow – curious enough to make anyone finding it curious enough to want to return it.
How it’s ensured it will be comely young women who come across the arrows, and return them themselves, and alone, is something only fairytale lore can tell. However, as coincidences pass for narrative, it so happens each son meets a bride absolutely suited to him, be it in love of physical fitness or sweet-smelling scents and suave blue clothing.
Except for the youngest, who – improbability replacing coincidence – has his arrow brought back by a talking frog. Still, he marries her – as the others gladly do their new-found consorts – and there follow a number of trials to determine the succession, in which the Froggess, working nights from her place in the lily-pond, shows her superiority to the other brides.
They are sure they’ll beat her on their feet when a dance contest is announced. But that comes after 20 nights’ marriage, which – rather than the kiss usual in Frog Prince tales – assures the return to original human form and beauty of the Princess, as she wipes the floor with the competition and sweeps her husband off his feet.
Kim Bergsagel and Symon McIntyre of Edinburgh’s Puppet Lab tell the story clearly and at a decent pace, set against a colourful fantasy Russian backcloth., McIntyre doubling as the Tsar in question. There may not be the magic of the Little Angel’s most innovative and imaginative shows, and the puppet faces do not have the eternal expressiveness of some companies: when put aside they look like puppets at rest, rather than maintaining the uncanny sense of continued expression.
But all is clear, bright and well-aimed for 3-7 audiences; so, if this Frog Princess doesn’t offer the imaginative surprise and stimulus of the best shows at the Little Angel, its clarity and colour still make for an engaging time.
Performers: Kim Bergsagel, Symon Macintyre.