Wednesday, 11 December 2013
The Light Princess by Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson
We wove our way through the crowds on the South Bank to the National Theatre to see the musical by Tori Amos. It's a sorta fairytale, called 'The Light Princess'.
One of my favourite Tori Amos albums is the one where she treks across North America. It's called Scarlet's Walk and is a road story told in songs.
I've also seen Tori live at the Apollo and now I wondered what it would be like seeing her new music and lyrics played by an orchestra and sung by the show's performers.
I didn't know the original Light Princess story, which is apparently a Victorian fairy tale.
I assumed there would be some dark spins included, and certainly, there are. The basic plot line is simple enough, with divided countries and a developing love between the divided princess and prince.
The light comes from the Princess Althea's grief at her mother's death from which she loses touch with the ground, floating through much of the performance. Perhaps expressed best as a loss of gravity, in every sense.
A darkness comes from the ways that the respective kings of the countries subjugate their politically opposed offspring.
Then there's a contested piece of land between the countries, ripe for the main action of the piece.
Musically, it's a major piece in its own right. Orchestral with lyrics sufficient to propel a sometimes complicated narrative. Maybe not as instantly hummable as a typical musical, but coming from a different place.
Of course, there's a magic from the aerial work of the Princess, often manipulated by puppeteers, and sometimes suspended on wires. Her feet hardly touch the ground in the whole show.
Add in the staging and the clever use of mixed media and puppetry and this becomes a show that really sparkles.
In honesty, I'd expected an overall darker shading from Tori Amos, but this co-operation with scriptwriter Samuel Adamson mixes in humour, spectacle and sometimes almost Disney-esque touches.
It felt like the right type of show to be watching in this Winter season.
Altogether a piece that is both unique and somehow a counterpoint to a show like 'Wicked', far away from the sometimes juke-box musicals which get pushed into parts of the west-end.
I suspect, because it's at the Lyttelton, that this show will be on a short run. I can guess that it's an expensive one to produce too, judging by the large cast and sumptuous sets.
I'm pleased I've got to see this recently award-nominated production, which I suspect may be one of a kind.