Theatre Review: Princess and The Pea @ The New Vic

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Production picture of The Princess and the Pea. A Unicorn co-production with New Vic Theatre and Upswing. © 2024 Foteini Christofilopoulou.

The New Vic Theatre is surely the envy of most within the world of regional theatre. Not only does it boast superb facilities and a great variety of dramatic output for its audiences added to an outlook that sees it providing extensive community and education programmes. The theatre also has the highly-admired Theresa Heskins as its Artistic Director.

Heskins has once again woven her magic to adapt the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Princess and The Pea for the stage. What is more – thanks to the involvement of her Co-Director Vicki Dela Amedume and the partnerships that have been created with Unicorn Theatre and Upswing – the production sweeps to another level as the younger members are captured by the world of contemporary circus.

The Princess (Rhiannon Skerritt) is a spoiled young lady who is waited on hand and foot by her three servants (Danielle Bird, Nathan Johnston and Robert Penny). As well as being completely at her beck and call, the servants are truly made aware of their station in life as night falls. While the Princess has a royal bed to retire to, her minions have to be content with a simple mattress on the floor. And even worse for them there is a pesky pea that continues to cause problems.

All changes when the Princess is caught in a storm while out riding and she loses most of her regal raiment. The Princess finds it difficult to regain entry to her palace so how can she get her servants back on side?

From the moment that the actors enter the stage and interact with the audience, the young people are completely captivated by what is taking place before them. With few words spoken, the tale unwinds in a whirl of acrobatics and trickery that had the young people watching on in mesmerised delight.

Well done to the cast who told the tale with a range of facial expressions and circus tricks that were faultlessly fulfilled. Bird was last seen performing her trickery in Astley’s Astounding Adventures and continues to display a great amount of diversity in her work.

However, praise must also be heaped on Designer Laura McEwen for a simple but very effective set – the children looked on in wonder as the clouds and rain appeared. Congratulations too to the Sound and Lighting designed by Alex Day and Joshie Harriette respectively and to Johnstone who, in addition to his Servant role, contributed to the free-flowing movement and choreography.

If this award-nominated production were available on a Children’s TV channel then most sensible parents would have it on permanent loop. It was truly a magical piece of young persons’ entertainment. I am sure the story’s fabled author will be beaming in approval at how his opus has been presented.

The Princess and The Pea continues until June 29th and has a running time of approximately 45 minutes. For ticket information contact 01782 717962