Theo Metz’s adaptation of Saint-Exupéry’s French classic into an English setting proved very successful, with a debonair Ziad Samaha as the Pilot, whose voice, accent and bearing made his role as a 1940’s airman entirely believable. The device of giving the Pilot an audience, in the form of a class of schoolchildren to whom he tells his story, worked very well, since the children help to tell the story to the play’s real audience by taking on all the bit parts of the people and animals the Little Prince meets.
The star of the show was definitely (and appropriately) the Little Prince, played by Lucy Fyffe, who gave the role the childlike wonder it required and injected humour, cuteness and pathos by turns. She was well cast, gentle and petite and even sporting the spiky blond hair which is a hallmark of the Little Prince of Saint-Exupéry’s original illustrations.
Jessica Waller gave the Rose a delightfully bossy personality, which was a surprise but worked perfectly, whilst Lloyd Houston’s New York accent and sharp suit made the Businessman easily identifiable and highly entertaining. Rachel Bull as the stressed Lamplighter, whose workload has increased to an unbearable level as her world rotates faster and faster, made a fine double-act with the Little Prince, dismissing his sensible questions and suggestions with finely wrought exasperation. In her third role, as the Fox, she began as the sly caricature and became a happy creature who has made a friend and subsequently aptly conveyed the pain of separation. It is of course, the Fox in the story who tells the Little Prince the greatest secret ‘On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur et l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux’ or in this translation ‘One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.’ and who tells the Little Prince that despite the pain of separation, the ‘taming’ which enabled them to become friends was worth it all.
The Alcoholic played by Mary Flanigan, and Alex Jeffery as The Geographer and The Snake were both well played, with pathos and pomposity as required and Jordan Waller’s King was briefly hilarious.
All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and did credit to the author’s skill in conveying the absurdities and wonder of the world through a child’s eye.