Happily Ever After was a welcome chance to take the little man on a theatre trip; at nine months old he came in well below the recommended age of five years and up, but he was made welcome and enjoyed the sights and sounds of this fairy story with a twist. He did, however, conk out for an inevitable afternoon snooze 15 minutes from the end, so the eventual feelgood message may have been lost on him this time. Based on the Dutch children’s book King & King, the show tells the tale of an unhappy prince forced to find an eligible suitor to marry. The princesses who are called before him do not impress; eventually it is another prince that accompanies him down the aisle.
Ellesmere Port-based Action Transport Theatre developed the 40-minute play in partnership with LGBT North West, and supported by Homotopia, as part of an educational programme to challenge homophobia in schools. Now, it has been lengthened and is touring theatres. ATT’s brand of children’s theatre tells stories through silent clowning (MADEUP reviewed their show Statik in 2013). And here, enhanced with delightful music from regular Unity collaborator Patrick Dineen, things combine beautifully to create a charming play that looks and sounds as sweet as it is joyous.
Paul Curley is the childlike Prince Bertie and Bruno Mendes his panto dame-esque mother, the queen eager to marry him off. Eve Shotton plays a variety of eligible princesses, and Ady Thompson completes the cast as the boy who steals Bertie’s heart. The romance, needless to say is chaste and, appealing as it does to a very young audience, is demonstrated by way of a lovely scene with the two princes forging their friendship through imagination and play.
A warm and gentle show with a message of tolerance and that will surely do good work to inspire and comfort young people feeling different or alone, Happily Ever After is some very serious fun indeed.