Pinocchio

What

For

8 years +

When

14/12/2017 - 02/01/2018

Where

National Theatre

Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX

Pinocchio

Lyttleton Theatre

To 2 Jan and then in rep until April 2018

Tickets: £15–£62

Ages: 8+

Pinocchio

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket

Take a popular 19th century story with a splash of scary darkness, a Disney adaptation with some wonderful tunes and mix it up into a theatrical treat that is all its own.

A stark oversized wooden set, giant puppets like monsters in a dream - everything is topsy turvy at the start of Dennis Kelly's Pinocchio. Geppetto and the Blue Fairy (the spirit of the carpenter's dead wife) are double sized - the puppets' faces images of the actors below them. Only Pinocchio, the boy hewn from a piece of magical wood is NOT a puppet. It is disorientating but it works. 'It's about alienation isn't it?' said my junior reviewer at the interval. 'He doesn't fit into either world.'

Jiminy Cricket is a breath of comic lightness, a cleanliness-obsessed, risk-averse Audrey Brisson (reviewer Jimmy's favourite character).

David Langham's gloriously camp Fox leads the young Pinocchio astray. Unlike the cheeky innocent of Disney, this Pinocchio starts out as selfish and thoughtless in the extreme. He meets his first comeuppance looking for fame (in the hope of becoming human) at the hands of David Kirkbride's enormous circus master Stromboli. Left imprisoned in a giant bird cage, our hero learns his first lesson as he is rescued by Jiminy.

The advisory age is 8+ and you can see why at the start of Act 2 as Pinocchio is led to a nightmarish magical theme park of excess in search of pleasure (the Fox's second suggestion for what he needs to experience in order to be truly human). Peopled by naughty children who can't say no, under the increasingly threatening whip of another giant puppet the Coachman, Pleasure Island is a scary place. Hurrah for Jiminy, appearing as Pinocchio learns to 'Give a Little Whistle'.

His journey towards sensitivity and humanity is nearing its end as he and the cricket head into the jaws of the giant whale to rescue Geppetto. The staging is simple with effective use of light and dark and an overhanging epiglottis, reached with a clever gimmick with Pinocchio's lying nose.

Rescued from the jaws of death, it seems as if Pinocchio himself is lost. But of course he is not, returning as flesh and blood. And the emotion he had to feel? Pain. 'All humans have to experience pain and cause pain,' explains the Blue Fairy 'it is part of love and without love we might as well be made of wood.' As Pinocchio and his now human-sized father share their first proper hug, the feeling of goodwill in the theatre is palpable.

It is a great evening. Both old fashioned and new, scary and touching. And my junior reviewer was on his feet as the final bars of 'Wish Upon a Star' faded. 'Mum, that was brilliant!' 

Book your Pinocchio tickets here!

 

 

Pinocchio

Lyttleton Theatre

To 2 Jan and then in rep until April 2018

Tickets: £15–£62

Ages: 8+

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