REVIEW BY SUNDAY FRANCIS-REISS
Quality entertainment ‘ an exceptionally classy production. The Happy Prince is a kind of moral fable-come-love-story, originally a short piece written by Oscar Wilde, but adapted into a play by renowned children’s writer Richard Tulloch and produced by premier Australian children’s theatre company, Kim Carpenter’s Theatre of Image.
Theatre of Image tell children’s stories through visual and musical images, as well as words, making them a wonderful introduction to theatre for kids. This piece combines shadow puppetry, marionettes and visual illusions, and is suited to ‘children aged 5-12 and families.’ The story is a gentle one, played with fun, energy and the tenderness it deserves by an outstanding group of performers.
The Happy Prince is a golden statue who stands above the city, and from this vantage point is witness to the poverty and suffering of the people he once ruled, but whose plights he had been oblivious to, spending his days behind palace walls. The Happy Prince asks a Sparrow, flying to Egypt for the bitter English winter, to stay on and assist him by stripping the gold and jewels of the statue and redistributing them to the needy.
The sparrow does so, eventually dying of cold at the statue’s feet; the statue is pulled down by the mayor when they see how grey and dull it now looks. The only piece of the statue that cannot melt down is the iron heart, which along with the sparrow’s body, ends up on the rubbish heap.
But when Spring returns, the bird and the Prince are re-united in the Garden of Paradise.
The piece has excellent musical accompaniment, beautiful design and is sure to spark the imagination of all. My one, very minor, quibble with the production was in Tulloch’s otherwise fabulous scripting of the story, in the form of a very incongruous mention of Nintendo and Playstation. Have we reached such a cultural nadir that kids today won’t be engaged by something that doesn’t at least reference a video game’
The Happy Prince
23 June ‘ 12 July
The Seymour Centre, City Rd Camperdown
Tickets: $24.50 – $29.50, 9351 7940, or www.seymour.usyd.edu.au