Theatre / Reviews

Review: The Light Princess, Factory Theatre

By martin booth, Thursday Dec 3, 2015

Imagine if gravity didn’t apply – just for you. That when you got excited, you would just float up into the air.

That’s the predicament in which the eponymous princess at the Factory Theatre’s Christmas show finds herself, thanks to an aunt who’s a witch and bears a grudge on her dad the King, casting her spell at the christening where the baby princess rises up to the ceiling from the altar. 

What a pain: for the princess who is not just light in body but light-headed in mind. A pain too for the drama – how do you portray a character who cannot stay earthbound for long?

John Nicholson and Thomas Eccleshare have adeptly adapted George MacDonald’s fairy tale from 1864 and use puppetry, miniatures and shadows to wonderful effect in a terrifically funny production.

Director Nicholson has been called “Bristol’s premier clown” by Bristol Old Vic’s artistic director Tom Morris: and he brings plenty of clowning and slapstick comedy to proceedings, as a pool full of water in the middle of the stage is employed for full laughs.

The company is made up of just seven actors playing everything from courtiers to doctors, horses to snakes. Musical director Verity Standen is also on stage like a wandering minstrel, using a capella singing most memorably and also acting as a foley artist. 

As the princess, Suzzane Ahmet is a force of nature. Her prince Richard Holt is an altogether calmer character, while almost stealing the show is the magnificent Amalia Vitale (below), full of life and exquisite comic timing who has a great double act with Rew Lowe.

With the kingdom in chaos, order needs to be found from disorder and in the second half the witch’s curse has to be broken within Phil Eddolls’ imaginative and inventive staging.

It’s all set up for more fun and frolics in this hugely enjoyable, at times uproariously funny two hours that – in the best Tobacco Factory Theatres festive traditions – will appeal to all the family.

Let the power of theatre lift you up this Christmas. 

The Light Princess produced by Tobacco Factory Theatres in association with Peepolykus, is at the Factory Theatre until January 10. For tickets and more information, visit www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com/shows/the-light-princess

Pics: Farrows Creative

Read reviews of the Christmas productions at the Bristol Old Vic, Sleeping Beauty and The Night that Autumn Turned to Winter.

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