REVIEW: The Little Prince (The Playground Theatre) ★★★

The second production and first Christmas show at The Playground Theatre in Ladbroke Grove is the world premiere of a new stage production of the much-loved French children’s tale The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This version has been translated by Ros and Chloe Schwartz and is directed and performed by Martin Oelbermann.

Written by pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince tells an extraordinary tale about childhood, friendship, love, loss and faith. It is the second most widely translated book ever, second only to the Bible. It has been translated into 300 languages and dialects and, in France, it has been voted the best book of the 20th Century. The story is of a pilot who has crashed his plane in the Sahara Desert. As he tries to fix his plane he meets the Little Prince who has left his home on Asteroid B612 to take a journey across the universe in order to understand how to love the rose that has grown on his planet. Together they discover the secret of faith, friendship and the fragility of the human heart. The Little Prince is performed by London based German actor/director Martin Oelbermann. He uses circus skills and physical theatre as he tells the story of the pilot and the Little Prince. The set is simple with stars and planets hanging from the ceiling and projection is used to show the familiar sketch images from the books to support the storytelling.

Children are encouraged to sit on the floor on cushions to be close to the action and Oelbermann does a good job of engaging with the younger audience members with his storytelling and physical theatre. The show runs at 90 minutes with an interval and is recommended for children aged 6 and over, younger children are likely to struggle to keep their attention for the duration. Adults will also enjoy this show, as the Little Prince says, “All grown-ups were children once… but only few of them remember it.”

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Tom Olney