Upon arriving at the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, I stood wide-eyed in the foyer, throwing nervous glances at the large, lifeless figurines staring down from above. Slightly taken aback by the multitude of elbow-high children marching past me into the theatre, I took my seat at the back of the room and tried to shake my childhood fear of inanimate humanoids.
The company’s interpretation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beautiful, much-loved story proved to be absolutely delightful. The arrival of a rose on the Prince’s tiny planet leads him to embark upon a marvellous interplanetary adventure, driven by boundless curiosity, enthusiasm and positivity.
The puppeteers, Jessica Lewis and Shane Adamczak, begin the play by dissembling a structure of wooden boxes, distributing them across the stage. In one of the boxes, they discover the Little Prince puppet, and they proceed to develop his story together.
The series of boxes is opened in turn, each revealing a new character that the Little Prince meets on his journey. Some of the colourful puppets, such as the fox, teach the Prince lessons about the value of friendship and being unique. Others, such as the king who insists he rules- quite simply- over everything, and the businessman immersed in the process of counting the stars (his property, he assures), are met with the Prince’s light-hearted observation that grown-ups make no sense, while simultaneously imparting a darker, more cynical social commentary.
Under director Michael Barlow and writer Simon Clarke, this adaptation is bright and engaging, drawing the audience in and encouraging them to reflect on the themes and messages at its heart.
The theatre suggests the 50-minute play is suitable for everyone, but especially recommends The Little Prince for audiences aged 4-12. As a disillusioned twenty-something who was quietly sobbing by the end, I can definitely attest to the accessibility of the performance.
Words by Catherina Pagani
The Little Prince runs at the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Fremantle until 26 April, with performances Monday to Saturday at 10AM and 1PM. Tickets available here.