Le Petit Prince or The Little Prince is a most beloved tale by the French pilot, writer and aristocrat, Antoin de Saint-Exupéry. A fable that will resonate no matter how old you are or whatever your life story.
When an aviator crashes in a desert he is startled by The Little Prince who shares the wisdom he has gained through his adventures travelling the universe. The Little Prince delights us with tales of living on his own small planet; sweeping out its volcanoes and pulling up the weeds that threaten to crack his world wide open until one day a rose takes root. The Prince’s feelings for the rose are love across the spectrum. The simple yet powerful love of a child and the more complex love of relationships, understanding each other and seeing with your heart. Yet it is the encounter with the rose that sets The Little Prince off on a journey of exploration to other planets and he probes the human condition as he interacts with their inhabitants. The Prince encounters narcissism, materialism, drunkenness and shame but also compassion, creativity, imagination and friendship.
Aerial, acrobatics and circus are the perfect way to bring this story to life. It is a metaphor that connects deeply with the magic of The Little Prince. On the surface it is playful and easy, it is love in the physical form, something you can touch and feel. It is all the light and joyful parts of love that come easily. Yet it takes years to learn the deeper, more complex and heartbreaking parts of love that make it both more valuable and more visceral. Just as it takes years of practice to make aerial and acrobatics look so effortless.
The physicality of circus and acrobatics tells the story as there is no dialogue between characters. Chris Mouron is the narrator and her French accent added a genuine charm and connection to the writer’s nationality. The deliberate choice to use body language and energy to communicate the narrative was beautifully emphasised in the dance between The Little Prince and The Fox. Linoel Zalachas, as The Little Prince, and Dylan Barone, as The Fox, were cosmically connected on stage – we could truly believe genuine emotion was passing between the two. It encapsulated the playful and the purposeful and the heartfelt and the heartache that goes with forming a bond with another.
The ability of all the dancers to connect and deliver a spectacular show is not questioned. The expressive and dynamic choreography of Anne Tournié made for gorgeous storytelling. Marcin Janiak swung from street lights as the lamplighter, constantly igniting and extinguishing his light marking minute-long days, never resting and always productive. Riccardo De Totero plays the drunkard whose perfectly balanced moves gave the illusion of a complete lack of control.
And of course, there is Zalachas and his Rose, Charlotte Kah. An incredible pair of dancers who brought a sense of power and playfulness to their characters.
However, many moments were weakened by the digital projections which more often than not distracted from the powerful connections being made on stage. I wanted to see less pixels and more of the movement of the dancers. Their bodies were so strong and their dancing so captivating that competing with full stage projections interrupted the wordless dialogue so carefully constructed. The Ballet of the Roses was overshadowed by an almost gaudy projected image that was in stark contrast to the beauty of the ballet itself.
The costumes by Peggy Housset were a perfect match for the whimsical nature of this story. Being able to spin wildly from the ceiling, roll on a giant ball and dance across the stage meant that any costume had to be practical but Housset’s eye for detail made no compromises.
Terry Truck’s original music seemed to come from the spaces between the words in the book itself. It was as if that soundtrack had been written at the same time and was just waiting forTruck to bring it to life. It is a masterpiece of storytelling and carries your emotions through the story.
The Little Prince is on at the Sydney Opera House until the 6 June and despite its imperfections it is well worth seeing. Tournié and Mouron bring this big-hearted production to life and just like the book you will find a part that speaks to your own love story.
Sydney Opera House in association with Broadway Entertainment Group presents
The Little Prince
adaptation Chris Mouron | based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Co-directors Anne Tournié & Chris Mouron
Venue: Joan Sutherland Theatre | Sydney Opera House NSW
Dates: 26 May – 6 June 2021
Tickets: from $89