Lauren Howard Hayes and Hannah Pilkes have put their show Princess Party together based on their long history of actually playing princess at children’s birthdays. It combines the weirdest and worst moments from these experiences, packaging them into a single hour. You may have a ball at this absurd delve down the princess rabbit hole. Unfortunately, the glass slipper just never seems to fit like it should.
The show is improv-based but told with a non-linear format. It lacks coherence, with a generously loose narrative and dips in tone that feel out of place. On many occasions the audience don’t know whether to laugh or stay silent, especially with some of the more risqué jokes. The structure feels erratic, jumping between different characters for its own sake. There is certainly laughter, and the concept itself is a great one for late night Fringe entertainment. It just needs pulled off with a bit more clarity.
Two princesses pratting around in a castle should be good fun. Hayes and Pilkes fill the role of several characters, some of whom come off better than others – the two children, in particular, come across as a bit creepy (and weirdly sexual). The pair work well together, coming across as the kind of bedraggled millennial women who haven’t achieved their princess ambitions. Multimedia and audience participation also work well, triggering the right amount of embarrassment and enjoyment. Unfortunately, the antics all feel like a bit of a cover up for the lack of a strong story.
Princess Party teeters on the edge of a meaningful critique of princess roles and their effect on raising children, but this message never emerges as fully as it should. The kind of message that could make the show funny and memorable is lost under a veil of drunken ladylike shenanigans. Awkwardly told stories rarely get the full blown reaction that they are looking for, and Princess Party is left feeling somewhat inconsequential. The biggest issue is the lack of a clear story to tell. These personal experiences need squeezed more logically into a single hour, and made to feel like they matter. If this happens, then there could be a lot more fun to be had.