Assembled in the very rich imagination of Carlo Collodi 132 years ago, The Adventures of Pinocchio is a literary gift that provides joy and adventure for both children and adults.
Hidden behind the lively and iconic Covent Garden Square, the deceptively small gardens of St Paul’s Church unveils a playground of settings. Produced by Iris Theatre, Pinocchio glitters from Gepetto’s workshops, to the depths of the briny deep. Everyone knows the story of Pinocchio, a carpenter, named Gepetto, creates a new puppet, later named Pinocchio in memory of his late son. Jonathon Mulquin‘s down to earth Gepetto, Annabel King‘s bolshy Mistress Cherry, Nick Howard-Brown‘s austere Green Cricket and Nick Pack‘s boyish Pinocchio compliment the audience’s knowledge of the tale, sprinkling the action with slap stick, and a pantomime quality of not taking itself too seriously.
The unveiling of Pinocchio lacks the astonishment and wonder needed to make the moment prominent, however I am impressed by Pack’s ability to remain statuesque whilst the cast revel in his creation. Rob Connick‘s creation of Pinocchio’s mechanical nose incorporates the fun and morality into the piece, playing with the well known convention of Pinocchio’s nose extending every time he lies.
The production really comes live when the audience are transported to the likes of the forest, a puppet show, a classroom, a circus, and the terrifying Leviathan’s stomach. The ensemble are fantastic in painting a cacophony of characters, from Mulquin’s mischievous Mr Fox, to Emma Darlow‘s deceitful Mrs Cat, Simon Kent‘s boisterous Lampwick to King’s Miss Snail. No matter where you turn, there’s a revolving door of characters, ready to brighten up the evening.
Laura Wickman‘s Blue Fairy has the lightness and friendliness the protagonist needs, however I’m left wanting her to have an earthiness, a grounded energy that can’t be messed with. Darlow’s musical interludes cement a real communal and collaborative energy as she plays the guitar. Candida Cadicot‘s musical compositions contribute to the evening’s lightheartedness, with the most notable number encouraging the audience to take part in a ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ inspired sequence.
Denise Andersson‘s costume design playfully accompanies the eccentricity of the world inhabited. The snail, blackbird and snakes head showcasing Andersson’s creativity and skill. Daniel Winde writes and directs a family friendly piece, respecting the original tale’s longevity. The show runs for over 2 hours, and I wonder however if scenes could be condensed, as the running time tests the attention span of the young members of the audience. The production is a great and alternative way to spend the evening with family, but bare in mind the running times for the youngsters! 3.5/5.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Pinocchio is currently showing at St Paul’s Church until Saturday 29th August. For more information on the production, visit here…