Once upon a time, a plucky theatre lover travelled to the magical kingdom of Clapham in search of a top night out…
As soon as I heard about The Princess Monologues my mind immediately turned to the many articles, memes, and quotes deploring Disney princesses as bad role models for little girls, as good role models for little girls, arguments against buying pink toys for young girls, the story of the little boy who goes to nursery dressed as a princess, how princess is a compliment, how it’s a slur, colour, gender, identity. When did princess become such a loaded word?
Director Tessa Hart has seized on the multiple nuances ‘princess’ holds and commissioned a brilliant, blisteringly funny, sometime sad, twisty, twisted, and very prescient collection of monologues. A fantastically engaging sprint of an hour long show you’ll laugh, possibly cry, and certainly think on once the glitter has settled and you’ve left the theatre.
Eleanor Dillon-Reams is a revelatory tour de force, moving seamlessly on stage and in front of the audience, between the six characters of the six monologues written by the diverse and talented Tilly Lunken, Tina Jay, Claire Booker, Simon Jay, Amy Bethan Evans, Tessa Hart, and Eliza Power. Dillon-Reams’ accent, tone, posture and entire body shifted so fully to inhabit each character it was as if they were there: six different people. A staggering performance, she’s certainly a talent to watch.
Simon Jay’s Home Made Princess squeezed my heart tight with it’s incredible switch. Dillon-Reams expertly making the most of the emotive subject, and causing this audience member to have to blink away tears. Claire Booker’s Princess Frankenstein is a darkly, comic gem: one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year. And Eliza Power’s #Shame, sharp as a knife, effortlessly cuts through multiple meanings and associations of the word princess, of words and names themselves, pulling together Disney, Kim Kardashian, and a depressingly familiar situation too many women find themselves in, in a final punch I didn’t see coming.
The Princess Monologues are strong, tight, multifarious and gleeful inspections of what ‘princess’ means in 2015. This show deserves to go far. I wouldn’t be surprised if it transfers. Catch it if you can. You’ll live happily ever after.