Based on a 19th century Scottish fairytale by George MacDonald, The Light Princess tells the story of a princess cursed to have no gravity, either physical or emotional.
In Tobacco Factory Theatres‘ joyful interpretation of the tale, produced in association with Peepolykus and directed by John Nicholson, the princess (played with charming delight by Suzanne Ahmet), has been afflicted by her slighted aunt to drift away at the slightest gust of wind, and find the humour in every situation.
While this may seem more a gift than a curse, the girl’s enduring frivolity is reducing the kingdom to a mockery as people are inspired to do as they wish, rather than what they ought. More worrying still, as her mother The Queen wisely points out, how can you ever fall in love if you cannot fall?
When the royal family take a boat ride on their lake, the princess takes to the air until a breeze blows her in to the water, where she discovers a wonderful thing – while she can’t stay earthbound, water gives her gravity, at least physically. But how will she find her emotional gravity?
The seven cast-members play a remarkable assortment of comic, melancholy and evil characters, from philosophers to a trainee witch (the impressive Amalia Vitale, shown above) to court conductor Verity Standen who leads a capella harmonising that add such texture and atmosphere to the tale.
Then there’s the serious, long-faced prince seeking a princess worthy of his love, who falls for the princess and ultimately finds a way to save her, and her kingdom.
No spoilers here, just a hint of a giant snake who gets crowned king, a talking horse (or is that a man dressed as a horse), some fantastic punnery and one of the finest water fights ever staged.
Gorgeous costumes, family rivalry and abdication, puppetry, heart-breaking film footage and a grief scene as powerful as any Shakespearean tragedy, and you’ll be swept away by the action from beginning to end. Gloriously irreverent, inventive, and spilling over with colour (and water), this show is a visual, literary and musical treat.
At its heart, The Light Princess is a story about balance – light versus dark, and levity versus gravity. Because, as even The Light Princess must ask, can you ever be capable of true happiness is you’re unable to feel sad?
The Light Princess is produced by Tobacco Factory Theatres in association with Peepolykus. It’s on at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 10 January 2016. Book tickets and find out more at www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com.