The Princes' Quest

music review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2016
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Promising a modern twist on the fairy tale, this workaday new musical in fact feels as old hat as anything you’re likely to encounter this Fringe. Fans of whimsical ballads may find something of merit, but with a plot line this glib it’s difficult to see how anyone could be charmed. 

Ageing Ernest is prompted by an encounter with a young girl to tell his story as a fairy tale. So we enter the land of Evergreen, where Ernest is vying with another prince for the affections of a cool young princess. She sets them challenges including a karaoke contest, but it transpires that neither of them is particularly interested in her.  

You can probably see where it goes next. Suffice it to say that the 'twist' is about as surprising as Edinburgh rain. It doesn't help that every song in Henry Winlow and Sophie McQuillan’s score sounds much like the next, while the lyrics feature such zingers as “Wasn’t Cinderella / Made happy by her fella?” Sondheim this ain’t.

The five-strong ensemble, accompanied by three musicians, are likeable enough and sing pretty well, but the material they’re working with is largely abject. At times it becomes fist-chewingly cheesy.

Any endeavour to create new musical theatre at a time when good original work in the genre seems scarce is admirable. But that only makes middling efforts such as this more frustrating. This is a long, long way from happy ever after.