The Light Princess at the National Theatre
The Light Princess lights up the Lyttelton Theatre at the National, cleverly sewn together by director Marianne Elliott, who has also been responsible for previous successes War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time.
Following the classic fairytale premise, the play tells the story of a floating princess who is thrust into the role of queen, after years of being locked in a tower, following the death of her mother and brother. Clive Rowe’s King Darius hits some extraordinary notes and imbues his fatherly figure with grandeur and grace, and his relationship with Princess Althea (Rosalie Craig) is dynamic, albeit traditional.
Elliot’s use of puppeteering brings the experience to life in a clever way, particularly in regards to creating the floating princess. Choreographed by Frantic Assembly’s Steven Hoggett, the audience sees a team of acrobats impressively support and suspend Craig across the stage, barely noticed but sincerely appreciated by the audience. Their strength is astounding, and the naturally endearing Craig appears comfortable and elegant despite being carried consistently. Appearances of a cheeky, explorative mouse and reliable Zephyrus the bird were charmingly subtle, and sweet miniature sub-plots that gave the tale a little more depth, delivered in an equally controlled manner.
The brothers of Sealand, the rival province to Althea’s Lagobel, are simply excellent. Kane Oliver Parry is clear and emotive as Llewelyn, while Digby (Nick Hendrix) as Althea’s love interest is energetic and suitably dashing – and both travel through their stories and sing exquisitely.
The ensemble is full of playful characters and very strong as a whole. Musically, there are no show-stopping tunes that stay in your head but the entire story is told very well. The finale is spectacularly harmonious but it takes two hours and 40 minutes to get there. However, The Light Princess is a continuously sensational feast for your eyes that makes you believe in love and magic once again. Perfect in the run up to Christmas, the National’s production will warm you up as the evenings grow colder. With echoes of the musicals Wicked, Lord of the Rings and The Little Mermaid, it appeals to the Disney princess in all of us. Closing its opening night to a full standing ovation can never be a bad sign either.
The Light Princess is at the National Theatre until 9th January 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.