“The Princess and the Pauper” continues at the B Street Theatre through December 31st.
Sacramento playwright David Pierini is in touch with his inner child. He knows, as parents do, that kids love it when someone in a show is about to lose his lunch. In this show, it’s rotund actor Rick Kleber, playing a king as massive as a sumo wrestler.
Literature it ain’t. True, this play is loosely based on a famous story by Mark Twain, but that’s a marketing strategy aimed at convincing parents to buy tickets. In reality, “The Princess and the Pauper” is goofy gross-out comedy, designed to tickle the funny bone of kids. Twain’s prince is transformed into a plucky princess. This opens up the comic possibilities of gender inversion, since the pauper -- a boy named Henry – pretends he’s the princess, in lovely gowns. Then Henry is wooed by an evil courtier, who plants a kiss.
So enjoy “The Princess and the Pauper” as campy physical comedy, and don’t tie up your brain cells with the notion that it’s something literary.