Without straying too far into gender stereotyping, lots of young girls (and one or two boys as well) dream of one day being a Disney-style princess. Of course, that’s not a realistic career goal and most people do grow out of it. However, Disney princesses have also grown up and are no longer the weak young innocents hoping a handsome prince on a white charger will pop up and save them from whatever vile thing is trying to hurt them. Today’s princess is more likely to be some Xena type ready to defend herself against all comers. All this talk is merely a way to tell you that I recently saw Stuart Saint’s new production Princess – The Good Girl’s Gone Bad at the Lost Theatre.
Using a combination of dance, music, video and mime, Stuart’s piece tells the story of a girl (Jennie Dickie) who wants to be a fairytale princess and then one day is taken by her trusted rabbit (Morgan Scott) into a twisted world of princesses where she learns the truth of her fantasy and becomes enlightened about the person she wants to be. Along the way, she meets a whole host of characters including Granola (Onyemachi Ejimofor), the Pretty Boy (Travis Sumner), and the Perfects – Blue (Naomi Peaston), Red (Carrie-Louise Knight), Purple (Louise Andree Douglas) and Green (Helen Scott) – to name but a few.
Using an electro-pop soundtrack – with some easily recognisable influences – Director, Composer, Choreographer and Writer Stuart Saint has produced a fast-paced and frenetic story, split into seven individual segments, which really asks a lot of the dancers, who respond to the challenge extremely well. The pace is sometimes a bit too fast and without the helpful information on the various segments, in the programme, I may have had trouble following the story completely. Speaking of the programme, it seems that Princess really is Stuart Saint’s baby since, as well as all the roles mentioned above, he is also the vocalist and designed both the costumes and videos used – was there a quick flash of Shari Lewis’ Lamb Chop in the edit?
The roughly sixty-five minutes run time of Princess went by fairly quickly and there was no shortage of things to see with the videos and dancing. Unfortunately, the very open stage was a bit distracting as members of the cast moved backstage and also went up and down the stairs. At first, I thought all the movement was part of the performance but after a while, it became a little irritating, especially as all it would have taken was a couple of pieces of black cloth to remove the problem. Having said that, there were various elements I really enjoyed. Jennie Dickie was excellent in her role as the Girl/Princess and the character changed really well from the very girly girl at the start to an assured woman by the end. I also loved Morgan Scott’s Rabbit which, with its quite intense head could have been a rather unsettling character but in fact was quite reassuring as he kept a watchful eye over the Girl. This was a very intense physical role and Morgan pulled it off extremely well. My favourite song was ‘I Believe In Fairies’ which worked really well and had some great lyrics.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Princess. The music wasn’t always to my taste and there was an issue following the story but that does not detract from the fine choreography and the committed, energetic performance of the talented cast.
Review by Terry Eastham
Because the once pristine and weak-willed princess can now be a kick-ass Ghostbuster or a magical Snow Queen – our world is moving away from the helpless damsel in distress expected to suffer and serve and await to be rescued, and yet it’s at the heart of many a sexual moré. In Princess, Saint creates a lavish spectacle of movement and expression, gig theatre that blends music, dance and video into a new story of good girls gone bad.
Producer Stuart Saint
Additional Material – Mo Jen
Resident Choreographer Gwen Jones & Lana Avis
Sound Simon Kitts & Sam Dyson
Lighting Peter Ayres
Set Mary Clohisey
Photography Marc Abe
PR Chris Hislop
Associate Producer Alex Brown
For LOST Theatre Mark Magill
Company Hayley Chilvers, Jennie Dickie, Louise Douglas, Christopher Haley, Ioanna Kamenou, Carrie-Louise Knight, Brett Nelson, Naomi Peaston, Morgan Scott, Travis Sumner
Performance Dates November 15th 2016 – November 19th 2016