With neon lights now flashing at every turn and Christmas markets in full swing, Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre brings us a touch of something different in the festive season. The Little Prince is a heart-warming tale: the eponymous lead leaves his beloved home, asteroid B612, to embark on a journey across space in the name of friendship. On his travels, he meets the lone occupants of various planets who are mostly ill-equipped for anything near friendship, apart from an unlikely fox.
This is a classic tale by French writer, Saint-Exupéry and explores themes of human imagination and friendship. This adaptation (directed by Marie McCarthy) does justice to a relatively complex fable and the script (Sally Pomme Clayton) hovers thoughtfully over different stops across the universe, managing to simplify the plot without losing its charm.
The set (Sophia Pardon and Hazel Low) surpasses all expectations for a small theatre production: earthy rocks and boulders; a broken, up-turned plane downstage left; a puppet plant baobab; a swathe of white lights shimmering above us as the night sky. The detail is astounding, the efforts commendable.
The lighting (Rachel Sampley) is equally creative. A spotlight displays etchings on rocks and there are bright alien greens and reds. A small chasm at the back of the stage hosts scenic projections which transport us through different planets. A lovely moment is when the Prince climbs aboard his trusty bird and we fly across the universe, complete with uplifting sounds (Jon McLeod) and brighter lighting.
Costume is on par, if not more pleasing. What a joy to see the garlanded rose costumes; the geographer even has a map decorating his tie. We must applaud the sheer effort that have gone towards the aesthetics.
The cast is a trio of star performers. Royce Cronin plays Rose and a range of the other planetary occupants. He is entertaining and lends a panto energy to the piece with his large gestures and hearty song, albeit not the most tuneful. The lead, Comfort Fabian, is a charming and perky Prince, brimming with youthful fun and innocence. The star performance was delivered by Vera Chok. Her acting is enchanting as she transforms from the concerned and narrow-minded pilot at the start into a multitude of stunning characters including the fox who is the most engaging character on stage. She involves children in the audience in dance and jokes and brings the room to life.
I cannot praise enough the efforts that went into the intricate set and prop design. This marries perfectly with a story which tells of the limitless powers to the imagination. This is a journey both about the self and the way we treat loved ones and leaves you full of Christmas cheer. While the main themes clearly shine through, clever more nuanced meanings rustle under the surface of the earthy stage, making it a delight for both children and adults alike.
“Whether you want a thought-inducing challenge or a good belly laugh – Fiji is well worth your time”
Preparing to slaughter and eat a person for mutual pleasure and fulfilment is a fundamentally awkward affair, when you think about it. And Edward Stone, Pedro Leandro and Evan Lordan have really thought about it. Fiji, written by the trio and directed by Lordan, is inspired loosely by the story of Armin Meiwes who, in 2001, famously ate a willing volunteer in Germany – Fiji is not a retelling but is more of an admiring sequel to Armin’s story. Nick (Stone) and Sam (Leandro) meet online to consume and be consumed in Croydon (of all places) – but the story becomes a sort of charming rom-com with cannibalistic horror stuffed into its deep crevices.
Sam has travelled to Nick’s flat so that Nick can eat his entire body over two weeks – there’s no secret or mystery about their intentions which adds a pregnant, awful and comic irony to every scene. Little occurs as the two go through a crescendoing weekend together, knowing that it will only culminate cannibally. Intertwined with these two days of getting-to-know-you talk, is Sam and Nick’s final conversation which is split up and scattered through earlier scenes. In this last conversation, they each answer a series of questions designed to foster and build intimacy through vulnerability – with the answers as poignant interludes in a show which otherwise has the energy of How I Met Your Other cut with America’s Most Wanted.
Stone, Leandro and Lordan thread the needle expertly with their dialogue and the characters it conjures. The joking, banter and affection of cannibal and his future meal have great poise and keep the relationship grounded and relatable. It’s not horrific, but equally, it’s not especially sentimental. Standing as a testament to the cleverness of the writers was one strange moment – when Sam fled just before the butcher’s knife, instead of celebrating, one audience member cooed with disappointment and heartbreak that the characters had fallen out!
The set is simple with plain white chairs and a table making up the canvas. A little prop comedy wasn’t below the threesome with a box full of meat cleavers and paring knives being used to tease out a few extra laughs. The lighting choices help to separate out the jokes and dating of Sam and Nick’s ‘normal’ conversation from their intimate question answering. Humble choices in the set and lighting design help to keep the characters in focus and give the show a deserved grown-up feel.
This cheeky little play asks you to laugh at the point where the horrific meets the banal. When you ask a man-eater if he’s vegetarian or refer to someone as the ‘Obama of Cannibals’ it’s clear that we’re already in a very strange and a very original place. The characters are loveable and fun – Edward Stone’s performance is the foundation, but Pedro Leandro’s performance slowly builds as it becomes both more lovable and more encrypted. Whether you want a thought-inducing challenge or a good belly laugh – Fiji is well worth your time.