The Light Princess is a show I have been waiting to see ever since it was first talked about. The whole idea of putting on a new musical centering around a floating princess with a score by Tori Amos just sounded very appealing to me from the start.
The story is an adaption of a Scottish legend about a princess who is cursed to permanently float. Rosalie Craig plays said princess (Althea) and I’m not exaggerating when I say her performance is breathtaking through and through. After a while you believe she can actually fly simply because she makes the floating look so easy. For most parts of the show she is manipulated by a team of puppeteers which takes a short while of getting used to. You quickly forget they are there at all though. It’s quite similar to War Horse – I mean, Joey is a real horse, isn’t he?!
Rosalie’s acting and singing are flawless and thinking about how naturally she manages to belt out a song while hanging upside down still fills me with awe several days after the performance.
But while Rosalie’s performance is breathtaking the show itself has its flaws. There’s the story which doesn’t quite seem to know who it is aimed at. It’s a fairytale but it seems slightly too simple for the mature audience. On the other hand there are some elements that might not be suitable for a younger audience. In addition to that some parts of the story simply go on for too long. It feels as if aspects that have been established already are being dragged up again and again.
The set is stunning – especially at the beginning of act two – although it almost screams “Disney” in parts (plus some bird puppets seem to have been nicked from The Lion King).
Nick Hendrix as Prince Digby does a good job but doesn’t really get the chance to shine next to Rosalie Craig. The same goes for Amy Booth-Steel as Piper. Overall this is a very strong cast that is slightly let down by the material they’ve been given to work with.
The score doesn’t appeal to me but that might just be down to personal taste. I prefer songs that get stuck in my head post show. And while there are some beautiful melodies in the show the music just doesn’t stand out for me and actually seems a bit repetitive after a while.
While I’m generally happy to see a new musical I’m not sure this show will have a life after its run at The National Theatre. I’m genuinely wishing the show only the best though and I think Rosalie Craig has to win every awards she is eligible for. The Light Princess is a brave project with aspects of pure magic. However, it’s not a show for everyone and I fear it would struggle in a commercial West End Theatre.
The Light Princess is running at The National Theatre. For more info and to book tickets go to http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/the-light-princess.