THE LIGHT PRINCESS
book and lyrics by Samuel Adamson music and lyrics by Tori Amos.
Lyttelton Theatre Upper Ground South Bank SE1 9PX In rep to 9 January 2014.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS 020 7452 3000.
Review: Carole Woddis 19 October.
Wonderful fantasy and fantastic wonder.
Marianne Elliott’s production of The Light Princess, taken from a Victorian fairy tale by George MacDonald and set to music by grammy award-winner Tori Amos and playwright Samuel Adamson, is a triumph. I can’t remember being so excited by a production since I saw Elliott’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.
She has a way with staging fantasy. Uniquely amongst modern directors she can make it instantly appealing to today’s audiences, cutting through hardened 21st century cynicism with magical ease.
This time she has marshalled an extraordinary galaxy of talents – especially puppeteers and animators – who with Amos and Adamson have expanded MacDonald’s tale into a whirling, wondrous spectacle. Whilst half sending itself up – Steven Hoggett (of Frantic Assembly) produces some wonderfully absurd martial choreography for the enemies of the Light Princess – Elliott is always aware of the production’s darker themes such as war, parental loss, adolescence and an environmental message, playing them out with humour, vivacity and sincerity.
At the centre of it all is the story of a young girl, Althea – an extraordinary performance from Rosalie Craig who never sings a note in a vertical position, performing either in mid-air, supported by human handlers like some gangly marionette (many layers of symbolism going on here) or attached to a harness that lets her fly free.
And therein lies the paradox and beauty of this production. Unable to come to ground, emotionally, physically and metaphorically after losing her mother – a tragedy she shares with the glum Prince Digby – she is at once rebellious, narcissistic, unfeeling and free.
By the time she is `grounded’ and ready to embrace Digby, son of dastardly King Ignacio, hungry to get his hands on Althea’s kingdom and water supply, she will at last be a conforming woman. And he will have learnt to smile.
In between we have been taken on an intoxicating journey. Amos’s music may be unconventional, often wild, but she never loses sight of its purpose: to extend, amplify and dramatise the emotions of her characters onstage when words fail them. A grown-up fairy story, for everyone.
Voice of 6-year-old Althea: Eve Elliott-Sidi.
Voice of 8-year-old Digby: Connor Fitzgerald.
Piper: Amy Booth-Steel.
Llewelyn: Kane Oliver Parry.
Althea: Rosalie Craig.
King Darius: Clive Rowe.
Digby: Nick Hendrix.
King Ignacio: Hal Fowler.
Zephyrus: Ben Thompson.
Sergeant-at-Arms: Malinda Parris.
Falconer: Laura Pitt-Pulford.
Mr Flowers: David Langham.
Mr Crabbe: Adam Pearce.
Mr Grey: Caspar Phillipson.
Lady Delphine: Nicola Hart.
Ensemble: Vivien Carter, James Charlton, CJ Johnson, Richard Lowe, Jamie Muscato, Landi Oshinowo, Phoebe Street.
Acrobats: Owain Gwynn, Tommy Luther, Emma Norin, Nuno Silva.
Swings: Stephanie Bron, Luke Johnson.
Director: Marianne Elliott.
Designer: Rae Smith.
Lighting: Paule Constable.
Sound: Simon Baker.
Orchestrations: John Philip Shenale.
Vocal Arrangements/Additional Orchestrations: Tori Amos & Martin Lowe.
Music Supervisor: Martin Lowe.
Choreographer: Steven Hoggett.
Animations: Matthew Robins.
Projections: Ian William Galloway.
Digital Art: Emma Pile, Lawrence Rowell.
Puppetry director: Finn Caldwell.
Puppets: Toby Olié.
Costume: Alex Lowde.
Aerial Effects: Paul Rubin.
Associate designer: Paul Atkinson.
Associate choreographer: Neil Bettles.
Assistant music director: Tom Brady.
World premiere of The Light Princess was at the Lyttelton Theatre, 9 October 2013.
The Light Princess was developed at the National Theatre Studio.
This play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Plays Award.