The Nine Lives of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A journey through the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, novelist and aviator, that leaves the audience wondering how this wounded character has come to be considered one of France's greatest heroes.

★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Nine Lives of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Published 18 Aug 2016

Best known for his novella The Little Prince, French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry cuts an almost pathetically boyish figure in this one-hour show about his troubled life.

In an opening scene we see an elegant woman in black who turns out to be the personification of death. “We go back a long way, you and me,” she tells him, alluding to his accident-prone life as a pilot. The conversations with Death are interspersed with episodes from his life, which at least seems to have covered a lot of ground. "A moment ago I was flying over Nice; now I’m in New York," Saint-Exupéry tells us. We learn that he marries a widowed woman named Consuelo – but the marriage doesn’t sound like it was a great success. The poor woman was understandably put out by his female "friends" and unhealthily close relationship with his mother.

Through this, we're led to understand how Saint-Exupéry remained a frozen child well into his later years. His father dies when the boy is very young; his mother seems to have doted on him, before his grandfather sends him away to boarding school where he is treated without much in the way of kindness.

The same actress plays all the supporting parts, as well as bringing the Little Prince to life as a puppet. All the acting is accomplished, but it is overshadowed by a cluttered stage and a script that presents Saint-Exupéry as a one-dimensional character. He comes across as so boyish that the audience is left wondering how to match up the character in the show with the writer’s reputation as one of France's greatest heroes.