The level of energy needed to engage an adult audience needs to be high, but to perform a show for children your energy needs to match that of a four year old or, dare I say, to challenge it.
The Princess and the Pea is a famous tale by Hans Christian Anderson, loved by girls and boys the world over. There were many of those children in the audience, excited to see their favourite tale of love and nobility told to them through storytelling and song but the story opened with little energy and was lacking in sparkle throughout the performance. Musical interludes dusted throughout the show at times dragged and when the story was sung it became unclear what was happening. The King had an awkward delivery which suggested that this piece was under rehearsed, although the Queen is quick to rein us in with her perfectly pitched queen-like pronunciation.
The show picked up when the prince appeared. The light behind his eyes showed he was ready to re-engage the children in the story, taking us through his journey to find the princess he wants to marry. His body language and energy made him watchable and entertaining.
One of the easiest ways to win children over is to make them laugh. Children are eager to laugh and it was clear in this show that it didn’t happen often enough. There was the token toilet joke which the audience chuckled at desperately but unfortunately that was it.
This company had a great story to play with, the ability to sing well and, at times, the acting was good. But a show for children needs explosions of excitement, laughter and fun. What this group needs more than anything else is playfulness and energy as, without that, the production is in danger of falling flat.