The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea follows the story of the lonely Prince Jethro. He is sad because no princess that he meets is suitable for him to marry. All fail to pass his mother’s strict test: if they can’t feel the pea at the bottom of a tall pile of mattresses, they can’t be a true princess and are therefore unworthy of her son. However, this version of the classic fairy tale is not a straightforward retelling. C Theatre have reworked the story and incorporated others, improving on what might otherwise have been simplistic. The show’s atmosphere was chatty and relaxed, and therefore fantastic for small children not yet used to the conventions of the theatre. Likewise, the jokes and pop culture references added in were for the most part enjoyed by all in the audience.

This has the potential to be a first-rate way to spend a morning

The actors, who are all solid performers, play well off each other as well as with the young members of their audience. This all contributes to a general feel of the show as a storytelling session rather than a more traditional play, and allows you to relax and enjoy yourself in a cosy setting. The occasional ‘meta’ references to the constructions of the theatre such as the set and the tech box also contributed to a feel within the audience that you are in the same space as the actors, as by a fireside listening to a story. The show is very stripped-back, with the cast often filling in the roles of trees and other various objects and characters, giving the opportunity for children and adults alike to engage and use their imaginations.

However, there were a few scenes during the prince’s travels where more could have been done to embellish the storytelling, such as adding a few more sound effects or fully utilising all of the actors for each set piece. Likewise, occasionally the cultural references were a little outdated and therefore perhaps lost on the young audience. Some however were spot-on, such as Prince Charming’s posh-boy persona. This and some excellent choreographed pieces, such as Princess Verymean’s ball, make this a fun and entertaining show from which no-one will leave unhappy. An added bonus was the unexpectedly progressive angle of the show throughout, explored through various characters such as the bearded princess.

Despite a few issues with timing as well as the story lagging slightly in places, the energy of the performers demonstrates that this has the potential to be a first-rate way to spend a morning.

Reviews by Laurie Kilmurry

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The Blurb

Fantastical adaptation of a much loved family favourite, C theatre presents a playful story of a prince in search of a real princess, and a girl who is not as she first appears. Hans Christian Andersen's captivating classic is brought to life as we discover that to be a true princess requires more than a bad attitude and a giveaway tendency to bruise easily. With plenty to keep everyone entertained, this is the ideal show for fussy young eaters and their harassed parents.

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