'Come in girls, sit anywhere you like.' It is an unusual phenomenon for a piece of theatre to inspire breathlessness and awe in an audience member from the very outset, however in the case of 'Belt Up Theatre's A Little Princess' this feeling was to become an instant reality. Before the scripted narrative had even commenced an engaging pre-set involved the audience being ushered into a chintzy living room space by a matronly man in a dress and seated upon sofas, benches and floor cushions. The attention to detail of the set, which can only be described as exquisite with its plush wall hangings, sun-filled windows and cosiness, induced a feeling that we, the audience, were about to bear witness to something very special.
Amusing and heart-wrenching in equal measure Jethro Compton's adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic tale is a triumph of literary subtlety and genius even when viewed in isolation. The swift and slick movement between scenes of joyous childish fun- a memorable game of pin the tail on the donkey immediately comes to mind- and startling sadness drive this script into uncharted waters of brilliance the like of which I have rarely before witnessed at the Fringe.
Add to this Serena Manteghi's disarmingly stunning portrayal of Sara Crewe which astounded from start to finish and an audience experience so immersive that even the most emotionally detached of watchers appeared close to tears, and you have the making of a show capable of capturing a heart and shattering it into a thousand tiny pieces. Not that this piece should be considered a sombre affair; girlish amusement and a child-like desire for stories and imagination formed the centrepiece of all which made this show truly wonderful. One such moment of inspiration involved the telling of a fairytale using props pulled from the depths of a chimney, illustrating the ingenuity and style such a production radiates.
Outstanding in every possible instance, regretfully it is impossible to note every moment of inspired brilliance from such a show. One to be experienced first hand and in all its three dimensional glory, 'Belt Up Theatre Company's A Little Princess' is most definitely not one to be missed. A triumph of imagination, romance, loss and inspiration - go see!