Saturday, November 17, 2001

Families looking for a story that appeals to all age levels will enjoy the Classika Theatre’s production of “The Little Prince.”

The play is based on the story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery of a pilot (Eric Synnestvbedt) who crashes in the Sahara desert and his extraordinary encounter with the Little Prince from another planet (Boris Kiselev).

Interwoven in the action between the pilot and the prince are the pilot’s frank remarks to the audience and the background tale of the Little Prince’s journey.

The production clearly targets children, right from the opening scene, when the pilot tells how he came into his line of work through the misunderstanding of adults.

As a young child, the pilot wanted to become an artist. He decided to draw a picture of a snake swallowing an elephant after viewing a nature program about boa constrictors and how they swallow their prey whole.

Unfortunately, all the adults to whom he showed the picture thought it was a drawing of a hat. So he decided to draw the view from the inside. Still, no one understood what the boy was doing, so he wound up becoming a pilot instead of an artist. Sometimes during his travels, he would encounter someone he thought might become a friend and would show that person the first boa constrictor drawing. It was still viewed as a hat.

The Little Prince sees the picture for what it is supposed to be. Although the pilot is overjoyed that he has found a kindred spirit, he realizes eventually that he has grown somewhat old and needs to relearn how to determine what is special in life. This is brought about through the Little Prince’s tale of life on his little planet and his journeys after he left it.

As the pilot, Mr. Synnestvbedt seems to relish telling the story of the boa-constrictor pictures. He holds them right up to the faces of adults in the audience and seems to relive the frustration of the picture’s misinterpretation.

Boris conveys quite well the Little Prince’s loneliness as he is separated from his rose and has trouble finding new friends on his journey.

Christine Herzog is the rose, a flower that appears on the Little Prince’s planet. She loves that she is the only one of her kind on the plant and demands that the Little Prince shower her with water and attention. Her antics are some of the comedic highlights of the play. However, they cause a rift between the prince and the rose, and the prince decides to leave his planet for a while to travel.

Jason Linkins plays a fox that has a fondness for chickens and chicken sounds. He helps the Little Prince realize how special and valuable friendship can be.

Lou Swerda rounds out the cast as various characters the Little Prince meets as he travels to other planets.

Miss Herzog appears later as a snake that wants to help the prince return home but the pilot says the snake should not be trusted. As much as the children in the audience loved the rose, many squirmed uncomfortably at the snake’s appearance.

At less than two hours with intermission, the production is long enough for children to enjoy but not so long that they will become restless. The play is directed by Classika’s visiting Russian director, Yuri Kordonsky

Although targeted to children, the story is filled with metaphors and symbolism on the meaning of things that only an adult would catch. It a fun-filled treat for the entire family.


WHAT: “The Little Prince”

WHERE: Classika Theatre, Village of Shirlington, 4041 28th St. S., Arlington

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 30

TICKET: $10 to $15

PHONE: 703/824-6200


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