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REVIEW: Prince Charming – Perth Theatre

illustration of prince charming as a child

There’s a lot of pressure being charming all the time. So many expectations. It’s enough to make you take to your bed and stay there in the same pants for three months. Prince Charming is crippled with anxiety, worrying about the dark, being struck by lightning, getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle, living up to his legendary name, falling into quicksand, fighting dragons and the last day of the world – to name a few. Our prince is “too busy with his brain” to get out of bed. It takes the kindly Gomo to help overcome his anxieties and coax our hero out from under his duvet.

Jenny Worton’s delightful tale reminds us that every worry has equal weight when you are a child and that worry unites us all, no matter whether you’re big or small. It also reminds us all that it’s perfectly OK not to have all the answers, we’re all in this together.

Giulia Innocenti’s Gomo is a warm guide through the story and Nix Wood manages to represent the whole gamut of human emotion in our strange-looking, but appealing, little wooden hero in blue Y-Fronts and a vest. There are a few musical numbers including the fabulous I’m Not Special (when it comes to worry), which reminds this reviewer of the unexpected and slightly subversive songs of Tim Minchin in Matilda. The set is simple but effective and the lighting, particularly the ceiling of stars is particularly beautiful.

There is as much entertainment for the adults as the children here. It all gets a bit meta as our Prince has an existential crisis: he’s already a “one size fits all character”, “general not special”, never the title character – there’s no story called Prince Charming, when he finds out he’s really a puppet, something that threatens to send him right back under the bed covers. But after he breaks the fourth wall and the tinies in the audience get up close and personal, all is well in our theatrical world.

It’s seems glib to say that something is heart-warming but Prince Charming truly is. Not only does it open up conversations on mental health in children in the most fabulous way, there are also laughs a-plenty, mild peril, some ear-worm songs and a whole lot to ruminate over, but ultimately it all adds up to a fabulous piece of entertainment for all ages that will send you to the street with a smile on your face.

Runs until 20 April 2019 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for THE REVIEWS HUB

REVIEW: Opera Highlights (Scottish Opera) – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Four singers, one piano, seventeen venues, Scottish Opera’s much-anticipated Opera Highlights returns (yippee!) and as always, it never fails to delight.

Director Daisy Evans has framed this year’s production as an electronically created playlist of opera gems. An “on-stage opera newbie” goes on an “emotional musical voyage” discovering, via Spotify and Google via Alexa, just how music has the power to move. Evans is a director to watch, and her staging undoubtedly adds greatly to the enjoyment of the evening. It’s funny, clever, accessible, inclusive, all the things that good theatre of any genre should be. It also looks great. A neon door and window and a few wooden crates serve as the only stage dressing, but coupled with the brightly coloured suited, booted and co-ordinating nail-varnished cast, it works brilliantly.

Freed from the constraints of remaining in a single character, the singers’ personalities are given the chance to shine in a variety of roles, and the warmth just radiates from the quartet. The acoustics in this small auditorium are as close to ideal as it is possible to get in a theatre and the voices give goose bumps. Soprano Sofia Troncoso, Mezzo Sarah Champion, Tenor Richard Pinkstone, Baritone Dawid Kimberg are exceptional as is pianist Jonathon Swinard.

The programme, designed by Scottish Opera’s Head of Music Derek Clark, delivers something for everyone. The range of composers, styles and moods, genuinely runs the gamut of human emotion.

Scottish Opera’s annual ‘Highlights’ tour, and indeed the whole of the company’s programming, is a model for how a national company should operate. A hands-down, five star, exemplary evening of entertainment.

Currently on tour to: Ayr, Drumnadrochit, Wick, Forres, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Lanark, Helensburgh, Dundee, Inverurie, Laurencekirk, Perth, Dumfries, Musselburgh and St. Andrews.

More information at Scottish Opera