A beacon of joy: Luca Silvestrini’s Protein in The Little Prince

The Place, London
December 19, 2021

Luca Silvestrini’s production of The Little Prince is a moment of bliss in dark times. Together with his versatile cast, he successfully transliterates the magic of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella from page to stage. Like the book, it is short, but it turns the black box theatre space into a universe of imaginative ideas.

The pilot’s crash is represented by a paper plane with a bent nose. The spheres, large and small that bounce around the stage become the solar system itself, and the four players create everything else.

Simon Palmer, the pilot, expertly bridges the gap between man and boy. He is overjoyed when the Prince understands precisely his drawing of an elephant inside a boa constrictor while also understanding the serious situation of a man lost in the desert without water and never forgetting the values of love and friendship that the Prince represents. He drives the narrative in a performance of high energy and skill.

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein in The Little Prince
Photo Jane Hobson

Faith Prendergast, The Little Prince, is miniscule and wide-eyed, leaping and climbing fearlessly within Yann Seabra’s imaginative set. She is totally in the moment and her absolute sincerity opens the door to let us enter this otherworld without questioning. Dancer and actor, child and adult: she switches effortlessly from extreme vulnerability to undisputed authority with consummate ease.

Andrew Gardiner, a master of voices, plays the Fox, a creature with super audience appeal. He offers an inspirational lesson in true friendship, cautious and genuine: the real thing and not the triviality of the all-too-easy ‘like’. In his other roles he juxtaposes the honest working Lamp Lighter with the deliciously nerdy Geographer.

Donna Lennard is the queen of the quick change with a magnificent voice as her indispensable accessory. Her King is armed with the catch phrase: ‘I am so powerful’ and her practice of changing the law to make sure it backs up the line, finds its counterpart in world politics. She played the audience like a charm and had us eating out of her hand, but not so the Little Prince who simply continued on his journey. Later Lennard gleefully morphs into a Garden of Roses, a profit-based Business Man and also the Snake. She plays the hissing Snake straight and strong. Treated with suspicion, the reptile is enigmatic but essential to completing the story, thus enabling the Prince to return to his Asteroid and his beloved Rose.

The Little Prince is a production for all ages, packed with moments that make you think and wonder, while taking you on a thoroughly enjoyable journey.

The Little Prince is at The Place, London to December 24, 2021. Visit www.theplace.org.uk for details and tickets.