At a time when political clout appears tied to the reach of one’s Twitter and Instagram feeds, Down the Well Production’s Your Princess is in Another Castle could not be more timely.
Meet Princess Polly (Nancy Kenny), runner up in the Miss Free World Competition—the reality TV show that would determine who gets to rule over the free world—turn barista.
Meet, for lack of a name, Generic Privileged Male (Wesley Babcock), who, having found Polly toiling away in a coffee shop, realizes that it is his duty to save her from her own post-election obscurity.
What will happen when you bring the two together? Could it be the romantic entanglement the general public expects of two attractive people? The morbid indulgence of the world’s darker hungers, resulting in the corruption of a capable and compassionate leader?
Well, that would be telling…
The first thing I’ll about this performance (which is also likely the first thing that either Babcock or Kenny will say once the stage doors close) is that this is a workshop performance, in that these co-creators don’t yet feel satisfied with the current state of this production. This may turn some people people off—in fact, two people, after hearing Babcock’s disclaimer, went for the door as soon as they were sure the actors wouldn’t see them.
Without a doubt, those two lost out on more than just their price of admission. You Princess had a level of polish and cohesion that stands out alongside its fellow Fringe shows—even alongside some feature productions I’ve seen. While it may as yet not live up to its creators’ expectations, it certainly surpassed my own.
Furthermore, the workshop status of this show provides you with the rare opportunity to inform the evolution of this piece—there may even be a beer in it for you!
As for the show itself, there is a lot to unpack from just this one hour performance. You have the aforementioned reality TV election campaign mentioned earlier—leading to popular, albeit unprepared, individuals taking the reins of society—which blends into this quasi-1984 level of invasive surveillance. You have a population divided not just between man and woman but between man and mannequin. You have Generic Privileged Male/Babcock embodying and rationalizing a sense of obnoxious maleness, while Polly/Kenny works to determine her own self-worth in the face of trending hashtags and a Prince Charming determined to save her from herself.
And even without taking all this into account, it could still probably coast on its humour and repartee.
Kenny and Babcock are great on stage, and they have a chemistry that catalyzes the stage—even if you just want to slowly want to force a pillow over Generic Privileged Male’s face part way through the show to save you from further acts of poetry and long-winded mansplanations.
While it could certainly use a bit of tightening in places, and the ending didn’t seem to have that cataclysmic punch that seemed destined to go hand in hand with Polly’s fate, you can probably tell, this is yet another show that I highly recommend checking out before Fringe is over done.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you thought. Join the discussion and leave me a comment below.
Your Princess Is In Another Castle runs as part of the Ottawa Fringe Festival, through Sunday June 18th.