Watermill Theatre - The Prince and the Pauper
14th November 2019 to 4th January 2020
Magical Christmas musical
Rags to riches and back again at The Watermil
The Prince and the Pauper, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until January 4
The Watermill's Christmas production of The Prince and the Pauper is a delightful seasonal treat for all the family.
Mark Twain's classic story tells of the young Prince (David Fallon, who reminded me of a young Rowan Atkinson), who is frustrated at being shut up in the palace and longs to find out about the real life outside and escape the rules imposed on him and wants a companion of his own age to play with.
Tendai Rinomhota plays the Pauper who dreams of breaking free from her lowly life in the East End of London and sharing her love of music and dance and performing for the finest people in the city.
When they meet and decide to swap identities, they embark on a remarkable adventure where they learn about each other's world and are changed forever – a salutary lesson for them both.
Adapter Chinonyerem Odimba brings an unusual twist to this tale by creating the part of the Pauper as a girl, Tomasina, which demands a huge leap in suspending disbelief since the two are supposed to look identical.
The six-strong actor/musicians are impressive multi-talented performers who play a wide variety of instruments and double-up on characters with ease and have a great rapport with the audience.
Hayden Wood strongly plays The King and the strict father of Tomasina while Stacey Ghent and Loren O'Daire are engaging as the twins Bette and Nan, as well as playing a multitude of roles.
The ambitious Lady Whatsit (Anne-Marie Piazza) is determined to become Queen and is thwarted when the ailing King dies, but hopes that Prince Edward will give her a position within court.
She demands that Tomasina undergoes tests to prove she is indeed the Prince – which Tomasina hopes she fails – but Bonzo the cute puppet dog is convinced she is the real Prince and so the tests continue.
Meanwhile, the true Prince is appalled at the poverty and squalor that the poor people have to endure and promises to make it better for them, if ever he can get back to the palace where "the Pauper and the Prince can walk in each other's shoes".
Tarek Merchant's music captures the mood and period and Katie Lias's inventive London set has lots of surprises.
Imaginatively directed by Abigail Pickard Price, this magical show should definitely be on your Christmas wishlist.
There are reviews from WhatsOnStage ("inspired and imaginative choice of seasonal show, a real attraction for families and school parties alike... a truly original, seasonal treat" - ★★★★), the Basingstoke Gazette ("a brilliant alternative to the noise and slapstick of a pantomime... a magical way to welcome the festive season"), Muddy Stilettos ("once again, The Watermill has pulled off a super-creative family show... the most Christmassy show, I’ve seen here...a Christmas show that’s bookish not bonkers"), Pocketsize Theatre ("lovely Christmas outing for the family with a powerful message for the kids but delivered in a charming production" - ★★★★).