REVIEW: The Little Prince (Omnibus Theatre)

This weekend marked our inaugural visit to the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, where we were invited to review their Christmas production, The Little Prince. Upon entering the building, the Omnibus quickly made its way into the list of contenders for ‘best theatre ever’ due to the signs informing us that it has two resident cats. Unfortunately one was sleeping and the other was at the vet, but we clearly have a compelling reason to go back to the Omnibus very soon. And Mummy has decided that all theatres must henceforth acquire cats. The munchkins were also very excited about having finally become the mythical people who get to sit in the special seats with the reserved signs on. So a highly successful trip before the show had even started. But presumably you would like to know about that too…..

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s childhood classic The Little Prince is given a modern and magical update in this adaptation by Sally Pomme Clayton. The Little Prince (Comfort Fabian) lives alone on an asteroid, frying eggs over volcanoes, until one day a rose appears. Rose (Royce Cronin) is unique, fabulous and very demanding. Desperate to be Roses’s friend, The Little Prince sets out on a quest across the universe to prove his worth. But with every encounter, he learns a little more about the true meaning of friendship. Landing on Earth, he recounts this tale to a pilot (Vera Chok) who has crashed in the desert, before returning home to forge a new, more meaningful relationship with Rose.

Royce Cronin as Rose in The Little Prince. Credit: Dan Tsantalis

It’s highly entertaining and strikes a brilliant balance between comedy and sentiment. The messaging is very accessible, even to children who tend to struggle with extracting the morals from a story. Both munchkins were able to identify characters who represented either positive or negative qualities in a friend. With Fabian constantly on stage as the eager and lovable Little Prince, all the remaining roles fall to Chok and Cronin, who have costume changes aplenty as they take the audience on an interplanetary adventure.

All three work tirelessly to engage the young audience, bouncing off their contributions, both solicited and otherwise. Cronin in particular dealt exceptionally with a small heckler who was intent on having his moment in the limelight. He shines in a range of roles from the flamboyant flower of the Little Prince’s affections, to a pompous King would rather command than connect and a businessman who prefers ownership to friendship. Meanwhile Chok plays more rounded roles, from the pilot in need of a friend to a flock of birds who help the Little Prince in his quest and a wily fox who teaches him how it takes time and effort to cultivate real relationships (and to make it easier to get close to the chickens you want for dinner…….) She almost steals the show here, scouring the audience for chickens, and returning at the end to continue her unfinished business.

Vera Chok as the fox in The Little Prince. Credit: Dan Tsantalis

It’s all brought together with a lively score from Lillian Henley and clever projections from Rachel Sampley, on Sophia Pardon’s magical set that functions as the various planets that The Little Prince visits, including the desert landscape on Earth. There is plenty to engage even the youngest viewers, with audience interaction that feels natural and helps to bring the audience into The Little Prince’s world. Although not overtly Christmassy, it’s a quirky and heartwarming show that offers something for the whole family and is absolutely perfect for the festive period.

RATING: Raindrops, Whiskers, Kettles, Mittens and Brown Paper Packages (aka all 5 of my favourite things).

The Little Prince is playing at the Omnibus Theatre from 4 to 30 December 2019.