It’s hard to say what made Wednesday’s performance of The Princess and the Pea more special for my daughter and me: the show itself, with its fantastic storytelling and captivating music and songs, or the beyond-the-call-of-duty service we received from the staff.
The show is marketed at children aged three and over, but a lack of childcare meant that I had to risk taking my littlest viking who’s just over two. She’s been to the pantomime a couple of times and loved it, and even enjoyed The Wind in the Willows, but they were both in the theatre’s Main House which has the advantage of space and the ability to make a quick, easy exit that the studio doesn’t. Whether or not she’d tolerate an hour in the smaller studio without getting anxious or restless was anyone’s guess.
Things started badly when she burst into tears before we even stepped foot inside the studio, refusing to go in for no apparent reason. After a bit of negotiation I managed to get us to our seats, but she wasn’t best pleased and I was increasingly worried about how the next hour was going to go. How nice, then, when the lovely usher took pity on my plight and offered to let us sit next to her – comfortingly close to the exit – rather than stay in our (better) seats in the middle of things. We jumped at the chance, and were soon settling into our new seats. Two minutes later, someone else arrived with a ‘Princess and the Pea’ sticker for my daughter which did the trick of putting a smile on her face. The lovely usher predicted that she’d be even happier once the performance started and she heard the music, and she was right.
From the moment the three fantastic performers took to the stage, our littlest viking was transfixed. This is an enchanting, engaging version of the classic fairytale, with humour, colour and music galore. It’s pitched at just the right level for pre-and primary-school aged children, and even managed to hold my daughter’s attention until she fell asleep and started snoring. Loudly. After a brief catnap, she woke up and demanded to go for a wee (we’re in the middle of potty training at the moment – what joy!). Lovely usher to the rescue: she led us safely out through the darkness and even waited for us to come back. I wondered if my daughter would refuse to go back into the studio once she’d seen daylight again, but she positively skipped back to her seat and has been talking about The Princess and the Pea ever since. A hit all round.
The Princess and the Pea – York Theatre Royal (studio) – Thursday 18th September to Saturday 4th October – £10 adult, £6 children – To book: 01904 623568/www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk