Princess (2 Stars)

Princess
LOST Theatre
15th to 19th Nov 2016

Review by Richard Lambert, 2 Stars **

Music/Book/Lyrics, Producer Stuart Saint
Associate Producer Alex Brown
Additional Material – Mo Jen
Resident Choreographer Gwen Jones & Lana Avis
Sound Simon Kitts & Sam Dyson
Lighting Peter Ayres
Set Mary Clohisey
Photography Marc Abe

About the musical: “revolutionary and critically acclaimed writer/director Stuart Saint brings a ground-breaking interdisciplinary piece of theatre to LOST Theatre inspired by our twisted relationship with the “princess” – shattering the illusion of happily-ever-afters, banishing the storybook fairytale and finding the feminism in Disney.

Because the once pristine and weak-willed princess can now be a kick-ass Ghostbuster or a magical Snow Queen – our world is moving away from the helpless damsel in distress expected to suffer and serve and await to be rescued, and yet it’s at the heart of many a sexual moré. In Princess, Saint creates a lavish spectacle of movement and expression, gig theatre that blends music, dance and video into a new story of good girls gone bad.”

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The show incorporates lots of old-style CRT Televisions which are used as screens for video projections. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into this and it’s technically impressive to see the masking of the stage to project onto the back wall screen, occasionally through the door frames onto the backstage wall, and onto the TVs across the stage front. But despite loving the attention to technical detail to achieve this, I’m not convinced it worked artistically. This is mainly because the book is all over the place so the video can’t connect into it in an easily recognisable manner. the Video was well done, the content a best-guess, but what was the point?

The TVs placed across the front of the stage are a huge mistake! They block the visibility of the feet. We want to see the dancers’ feet!!!

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For a show that’s 100% dance and has 3 Choreographers: Stuart Saint, Lana Avis and Gwen Jones, on reflection the Choreography was truly terrible! Very 70s! Marching on the spot doing arm choreography, re-grouping to repeat. Planting the feet and free-form wiggling the upper body. Marching on the spot then 1/4 turn right 1/4 turn left. The 2 boy’s can’t even walk together arm in arm on the same foot and in time. Really lets the show down when it’s a dance show! There’s no script, no narrative, no singing, minimal acting through dance. So it’s a dance show. The formation wasn’t in unison, different feet, poor spacing, poor lines, poor shapes. Just not very well done. The choreography has to be hot! And it wasn’t!

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The marketting is excellent. You turn up excited and expecting to see a musical with dance about a girl who’s perhaps been subjugated, who struggles, who fights back and shows tenacity. A girl-empowerment show of feisty females. Nope! What you get is a barefoot girl in a gingham frumpy frock doing lyrical skipping around or sitting on the edge of the stage watching the show.

The story makes no sense. She has a soft toy rabbit. The dancers don rabbit face masks. But there’s no boy-on-boy, girl-on-girl, boy-on-girl or girl-on-boy dance or fight or anything.

The show has Parental Guidance of 16+. Why? Yes, there are one or two shirtless costume numbers from the boys but other than that, nothing at all edgey, provocative or dangerous. No frightening Sound Scapes. Nothing offensive, scary, adult, sexy…..all quite tame really.

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The female dancers upstage the lead character in bucket loads! They’re sharp, on it and have defiant expressions that are mesmerising! If you like your men agile, shirtless and fit you’ll not be disappointed – the white boy is sooooooo handsome, the black boy is fit as, and there’s even a ginger bear who I’m sure is in great demand! All have great acrobatic skills and the chance to step out and show us their metal! The star of the show is without doubt Morgan Scott! Way better than Michael Flatley in charisma – without the annoying cockness!

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The most incredible part of this show is its Staging! The LOST Theatre has been stripped back so you see the high rig, the rear door frames, the side walls. Pete Ayres lighting takes full advantage to show the dimension of the space and hits every musical nuance. The mood and the effect from the lighting all perfectly match the the great Musical Scores by Simon Kitts and Sam Dyson. The beauty of this show is that you know the show hasn’t just been fitted into the theatre – the theatre has enjoyed a team of professional creatives who have used it’s quirks and anomalies to full advantage. It is interesting to see the cast line up on the stairs backstage before coming onto the stage in a line for the next number. There is a lot of dynamism is seeing the cast move around backstage.

The show takes itself very seriously. There’s no comedy, no humour, despite the material content. It needs more fun! It needs to be more entertaining! More audience interaction. It feels likes it’s trying to be the Royal Ballet but hasn’t quite got the skill set to draw us in. So it would benfit from projecting out instead!

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The Costumes (Stuart Saint) are great! Interesting and varied, especially the circular  large skirt that covers the dancers for one of the numbers!

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The staging and visual images from this show will remain with me forever! The show has something! It’s an interesting show. I’m glad I went. This show and this company is unique – I’d urge you to go experience this show! I hope that it’s next show has a better narrative, a script, some singing, some comedy, that it doesn’t take itself so seriously when a toy rabbit is reflected by the male dancers in rabbit masks. I hope the company grows commercially and look forward to seeing their next production – but it also has to grow it’s creative team to complete the package.

Hayley Chilvers
Jennie Dickie
Louise Douglas
Christopher Haley
Ioanna Kamenou
Carrie-Louise Knight
Brett Nelson
Naomi Peaston
Morgan Scott
Travis Sumner

Performance Dates November 15th 2016 – November 19th 2016
Tuesday – Saturday, 7.30pm
Friday late night showing at 9pm
Saturday matinee at 4pm

Venue LOST Theatre, 208 Wandsworth Rd, London SW8 2JU

Ticket Price £15 (£12.50 concessions)
Box Office Ticketsource (ticketsource.co.uk), 020 7720 6897

Rating 16+

Links Website (princesstheshow.com)

Soundtrack Taster (soundcloud.com)

 

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