RHT brings a gentle touch to the theatrical elements of this adaption of the short novel by Saint-Exupéry, the wide-eyed fairy tale well-known to tenth-grade French students nationwide. The Snake first appears behind a scrim, then fully lit but still in pantomime, manipulated by a puppeteer, before finally appearing in the form of a human actor; the various “big men” that the Little Prince meets in his fall to earth appear in a circus wagon-sized frame.
But the text of the production is faithful to the words and drawings of the novel, at times slavishly so, as when Craig Wallace (the aviator-narrator of the story) speaks to us exactly what he’s thinking. On the other hand, something we miss from Saint-Ex is the Little Prince’s jaunty cutaway royal gown: to accommodate the exuberant physicality of Jamie Kassel’s characterization, perhaps, the Prince wears some sort of bedraggled nightshirt. Kassel fully commits herself in her playing, but two shows in a row in Bethesda that feature principals with squeaky voices is a little too much to ask of us.
In the second half, as the Fox, Wallace has more scenery to chew, and he does so endearingly. The episode of the taming of the Fox is managed as a manic dance to Jacques Brel’s “La valse à mille temps,” and it’s a show-stopper.
- The Little Prince, by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar, based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, directed by Eric Ting, Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Maryland