Review: The Light Princess, Camden People’s Theatre

The Light Princess is a work in progress shown as part of Camden People’s Theatre’s Sprint Festival. The piece goes between verbatim speech, audio recordings, music, and excerpts from the fairy tale The Light Princess by George MacDonald. There is also added sensory input from dried flowers to smell, water and various lighting states.

All this considered, it’s not clear what the piece is trying to be. The story of The Light Princess, rather than a fairy tale, is here used to explore themes of love, sadness, mental health and relationships, none of which quite meet their mark. Originally the story is about a princess who is cursed with no gravity and how her mother and father try to cure her from this as well as her inability to cry. She loves to swim, and finds the water gives her back her gravity, so her father decides that she must be made to cry in order to be cured. Meanwhile, a prince finds her in her lake and falls in love with her. The lake is dried up and the prince sacrifices himself to bring back the water. (A better synopsis of the story can be found online for those interested.)

This show tries to tie excerpts of the original story into snippets of verbatim performance around love, mental health and the question “how would you make someone cry”. What we end up with is a disjointed performance that doesn’t quite tell its original story adequately or make sense of the other clips and snippets.

Those who are performance art aficionados might pick up more nuances or simply appreciate the piece more for what it is, in which case it’s worth going to see any further developed versions of this show. For those who saw the title and assumed it would be something along the lines of the musical by Tori Amos staged at the National several years ago, perhaps it’s not for you.

Hannah Gladstone
Hannah Gladstone

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