Pinocchio * * * *
at the Midland Arts Centre
Review by David Faers
It’s the first question that everyone asks when you tell them that you’ve been to see Pinocchio.
Does his nose grow? Can you see it happening? How do they do it?
Well, the answer to the last question remains a mystery but, thanks to the magic of stagecraft, the little fibber’s hooter certainly does grow before your eyes – to the obvious delight of the audience – every time he tells a porky.
Traditional crowd-pleasers like this are very much an integral part of the mac’s show and yet Rosanna Lowe’s adaptation of the much-loved children’s story is all the better for a bunch of well-judged updates that give it a modern twist without being too trendy.
The episode when Pinocchio and an anguished Gepetto are swallowed by Attila The Shark is a prime example of this kind of festive entertainment at its best. Clever sets and imaginative use of lighting – or rather the lack of it – build up the suspense and create a real sense of space is what is a fairly small theatre.
The cast are equally larger than life when the occasion calls for it.
We especially liked the Blue Fairy – looking like a refugee from the 1950s in her satin hollywood haute couture, the menacing Mr Tutti Frutti with his long, long beard and stilts, and the roguish cat and fox con duo who trick Pinocchio into cutting his family strings.
Like all festive shows, Pinocchio works best of all when it’s being a bit rude with a helping of slapstick thrown in for good measure.
There was little or no bum shifting at the show we saw – a good sign, especially when much of the audience is pint-sized. All in all, it’s a worthy successor to The Emperor’s New Clothes and hugely popular The Snow Queen.
* Running time: One hour 40 min. Until Jan 6.