The Octagon Theatre, 13 Aubrey Street, Whangarei

12/10/2022 - 13/10/2022

Whangārei Fringe 2022

Production Details

Devised by the Northland Youth Theatre company
Directed by Georgia-May Russ

The story is very like the original by Oscar Wilde. A swallow starts its migratory journey to Egypt but ends up meeting a sad statue – The Happy Prince  – and is persuaded to help the Prince deliver jewels to the unfortunate townspeople he can see from his spot above the city. The swallow finds joy in helping and sees the life it brings to the city, but ends up staying too long and the cold eventually takes its life. The Prince is heartbroken, and because of the jewels he has given, that were a part of himself, the statue ends up being torn down for looking shabby. Some joy is returned in the form of a community garden that the townspeople build.

Performed by Rose McKenzie, Ella Sage and Frankie Johns.

Written/adapted by Georgia-May Russ, Hayley Douglas, Rose McKenzie, Ella Sage and Frankie Johns, based on the original story by Oscar Wilde.

Children’s , Theatre , Youth ,

40 minutes


Review by Matt Keene 14th Oct 2022

We enter the theatre to the three performers moving about the stage, building the world of The Happy Prince. It is immediately clear that this is not a happy city. Monochrome, dense and looked down on from the castle on the hill, we are shown that the low-lying buildings are inhabited by the city’s under-class. As we move through the play we see their suffering, and understand there is little they can do on their own to improve their lives. Meanwhile the city’s upper-class peacock around, shallow and consumed by greed and the clothes they wear, treating workers and artists with contempt for being born without the advantage of wealth.

Starting with Oscar Wilde’s short story of the same name, Whangārei’s Northland Youth Theatre have devised a work that retains Wilde’s original themes of poverty versus wealth, sacrifice, corruption, love, and compassion but with a modern take clearly relevant to the teenage cast. The trio play multiple roles and switch between characters effortlessly, showing us narcissistic politicians, the arrogance of the rich, and the suffering of the poor. A deliberate feeling of melancholy hangs over us, but the clever and well-timed use of humour, a lightbox and layered analog animations provide moments of lightness and beauty that lift the mood.

NYT’s The Happy Prince is a poetic vision. The costumes are beautiful, and the final moments of the play are still and profound. The set, costumes, and interplay of light and shadow will hold younger audiences, but we are left with no doubt about what is important to the young cast that devised and performed The Happy Prince.


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