By BRUCE DENNILL
The Something Prince / Barney Simon Theatre, Market Theatre / Directed by Sue Pam-Grant
The Something Prince is not a play, so don’t go into the theatre expecting one. It’s like either – depending on the idea you’re most comfortable with – examining a painting with live people in it or watching a poem, as opposed to reading or listening to it. The piece is fragmented and non-linear and comprises monologues, complex dialogue and occasional asides directly to the audience, often in the form of spoken text messages.
Sara (Leila Henriques), Flora (Dorothy Gould) and David (David Butler) are, at different times in the piece, children, mothers and therapists, all operating in and around imagined therapy rooms which are all in turn part of an exquisite set that has the Barney Simon theatre looking like the deep end of a swimming pool.
Pam-Grant asks and expects her audience to draw what they will from the progression of sketches – a multi-purpose term here; referring to both her own paintings and drawings, projected on the back wall; and to the episodic nature of the characters’ interactions – and every audience member you speak to after the show will have a different idea of exactly what transpired.
The visuals are one of the great strengths of the production – striking, attractive and thought-provoking. The other is the wonderful skill of the actors who, although they are pulled in a hundred different directions by the script, give outstanding performances. Best of the bunch (which is saying something; it’s a hell of a cast) is Henriques, whose range – from blinding intensity to stuttering insecurity – is all the more astonishing because she does not appear on stage terribly often.
This is not commercial fare, and it makes no concessions in that direction. But the challenges it presents to its audience are enjoyable: you have to work a bit here, but your brain feels a little better for it as you leave the venue.