If you were a 90s kid, you would know how addictive the Prince of Persia video game was. It had you sitting before the monitor for hours, feverishly tapping your fingers on the keys to help the skinny prince escape the iron claw-like gates, fight sword-clad watchmen, and avoid the bed of nails — all to reach his love, captured by a villainous king. Now, here is a play that would tug at this memory of yours.
Prince of Persia: Panto-mania! by The Little Theatre will bring the prince that was stuck inside your monitor out on a bigger stage: singing, dancing and fighting. Theatre artiste and director of the pantomime, Krishnakumar Balasubramanian, tells us “while the play stays true to the core story of Prince of Persia, it has been customised to include a lot of pop culture, action, songs and slapstick comedy to keep children at the edge of their seats.”
The story revolves around a young and reckless Prince Dastan, who saves Persia from the hands of the evil King Winterban and his army. While the kingdom rejoices, the prince realises he could claim his status to the throne only if he had the hourglass containing ‘Sands of Time’, that has the power to ‘freeze’ the world. To fetch it back from the hands of Winterban, he makes his way to the cave of dragons, which houses the magical dagger that could break open the hourglass, and then to the spooky abode of King Winterban.
While that remains the crux of the story, Krishnakumar says that just as in the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time , there is a lot of moving back and forth in time. “In the story, the world has actually ended, and Prince Dastan goes back to the past to find the Sands of Time, and save the world from destruction,” he says. Mind-boggling? Not to worry, the artistes will constantly interact with the audience, keeping them in sync with the plot. “For most part, the audience decides the course of the story, which makes it unpredictable,” adds Krishnakumar. Even as Dastan travels from one location to another, the stage will reflect the same with multi-layer live settings and projections. He will be aided by Persian soldiers (11 to 14-year-old actors from The Little Theatre), merchants and fairies (seven to 11-year-olds from TLT) and dragons (tiny tots from TLT).
Krishnakumar, who started work on the play in August, seems quite at ease about directing over 50 kids on stage. “We did not have any idea or script in mind, as is the norm usually. We just put together a bunch of kids who are passionate about acting, and let them bounce off ideas. Later, we designed a script keeping in mind each actor’s strength,” he says. “More than challenging, it was fun. When you work with kids, you know what humour is today; and what is relevant to a young audience,” he says with a laugh.
The pantomime will be staged at Egmore Museum Theatre on December 4 (7 p.m.), December 5 and 6 (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.), December 7 and 8 (7 p.m.) and December 9 (6 p.m.)