Preview by Paul Nelson
THE next musical offering at the Landor Theatre, in Landor
Road, Clapham North, is to be one of the great New York comedy
shows, Once Upon a Mattress. It is a delightful re-telling
of the fairy story, The Princess and the Pea.
With true irreverence, the story has a few twists.
The Prologue, sung by the Minstrel, sets the scene. The kingdom
is in a sorry state. Placed under a witch's curse, King Sextimus
has been struck dumb and will never talk until the Mouse devours
the Hawk. Experiments with large mice and small hawks have all
Queen Agravain, a marathon talker, has assumed power. She has
decreed that no-one in the kingdom can marry until Prince Dauntless
(the Drab) is married to a true princess of royal blood.
The Queen has a Royalty Test, and 11 contenders have so far been
dismissed on the grounds that they are not of royal blood. The
Queen always makes the last question so difficult the would-be
In the castle, Lady Larken and her lover, Sir Harry, determine
that, marriage or no marriage, they are going to be parents. Finding
a princess for Dauntless is therefore a matter of some urgency.
After undertaking a Perilous Labour, Sir Harry sends news he
has found a contender, Princess Winnifred (the Woebegone), and
she proves her determination, getting into the castle by swimming
How Winnifred copes with the tests, whether or not she gains
the Prince's hand, and if there is a happy ending are plot points
for you to find out.
The music is by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard), the extremely
intricate rhyming lyrics by Marshall Barer and the show is presented
by the excellent Robert McWhir. Fans of this tiny powerhouse of
a theatre will be licking their lips in happy anticipation.
Once Upon A Mattress, Music by Mary Rodgers, Lyrics by Marshall
Barer, Directed by Robert McWhir, Musical Supervisor Paul Harvard,
Musical Staging Chris Stewart, Musical Director Tom Attwood. Presented
by Robert McWhir for The Landor Theatre at The Landor Theatre,
70 Landor Road, London SW9 from Thursday, May 1 to Saturday, June
7 at 7.30pm. Tickets 7737 7276.