Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Acrobatics and storytelling twist into a wondrous and whimsical world. Our favourite pilot crashes on the Mexican coast where memories of twinkling stars transform into splashing waves as he searches for his lost friend, The Little Prince. Told by a troupe of acrobats who spin the story upside down, Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince soars to new heights in this adventurous sequel for the whole family!
This is a simply staged piece of physical theatre with a modest backdrop that is more than enough for the piece, as the starlight shines out with seeming effortless physicality of the three performers (Cynthia Price, Taylor Casas and Ezra LeBanks). They take us softly through a semi-adaptation by Ezra LeBanks of the Little Prince – who, delightfully here, is a girl.
The show is narrated in a steady pitch, contributing to a the dreamy quality. I went with my 11 year old son to this who followed the narrative but I’m not so sure whether very young children would follow as easily – in some ways it doesn’t matter so much as the performers are captivating to watch, using graceful, physical athleticism to illustrate the story. We see them become a car…a cactus….whale…and other characters on different islands along the way. The physical performance by the trio is stunning, creating a gentle, controlled feel that only the very strong and skilled can pull off. As an acrobatic piece of theatre it is delightful and family friendly and there are moments of poignant reflection on the adult way of seeing life and ‘things of consequence’. At times if felt as if the the narration could have been more richly woven with the mood of the piece – it felt as if the audience were sometimes lost without a more tangible plot line on which to tether and as my 11 year son said when we came out – he would have like to have hear the Little Prince say her own lines – an interesting observation from him as I had felt the same and I think this would have allowed the audience to connect with more fully. I was in two minds about the style of the narration, in one way it was perfectly steady – allowing the physicality of the piece to take centre stage and it also reminded me of the pedagogical approaches to storytelling that encourage children to create their own imagination and responses to the narration rather than frantically over-excitable dialogue which can desensitise children to the subtlety of a story. The challenge here is that in a time where the latter is more prevalent, the narration in Flight can seem at times too unwavering. That said, this show is a welcome subtle piece that counters many garish children’s shows and is the kind of show you can take your weary family to and rest into, rather than blink at.
It was lovely to be reminded ‘that what is most important is that which can be seen by the heart’. Although, in an age of digital flashing screens and frenetically intense childrens Disney movies, the gentle depth of this play may not always stand out, the physical performances are wonderful and captivating and I personally feel that this approach to family theatre is a valuable contribution to the fringe.