PINOCCHIO IN THE PARK
by Michael Rosen. Music by Ben Glasstone
Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park. In rep. to 31 August.
Rune 2 hours 5 minutes. One interval.
TICKETS 020 7486 2431
Review Timothy Ramsden 6 August 2001
Tale of the wooden tearaway falls between too many stools
It’s an excellent idea of the Open-Air to mount a young people’s show. This Pinocchio is aimed at 6+ and plays Monday-Wednesday and Friday afternoons at 2.30 plus Saturday mornings at 11 during August.
A good idea too to invite Unicorn Theatre for Children (based at Islington’s Pleasance Theatre in North London) to mount the show. And sensible to have gone to established children’s writer Michael Rosen for a script.
Alas, it’s too many good ideas that prevent this Pinocchio having the breath of life its wooden protagonist finally achieves. It’s a bit like the food joke used to raise a disgusted laugh in shows for the young – where someone, usually of villainous bent, declares a love for say, baked beans on custard, or sausages in jelly. All mouthwatering on their own, but together….So we have Unicorn actors presenting themselves as a travelling theatre troupe. Then there’s the fake problem – the Pinocchio puppet’s missing, so George, the wannabe thesp. prompter offers himself (this works nicely at the end where Pinocchio’s wish to be human parallels George’s application for, as it were, a full equity card).
The main problem lies in how the story’s presented. Is it a pantomime? Is it rough and tumble physical theatre? Is it imaginative storytelling? Well, none of these for very long. And the result is it’s certainly not Supershow.
Worst are the attempts to invoke audience responses – not easy in the open-air. If you’re going to do that, you should at least listen and respond to the answers you receive.
There are good visual moments, the set transformed to a carriage or shark’s mouth. Dale Superville is a likeable, physically alert George/Pinocchio and the cast play characters and instruments heartily in Emily Gray’s production. But what kind of show are they really in?
Travelling Player/Fairy/Pigeon: Angela Bain
Travelling Player/Geppetto: Jeff Diamond
Travelling Player/Columbina/Cat/Judge/Circus Master: Ekua Ekumah
Travelling Player/Maestro: Ben Glasstone
Travelling Player/Arlecchino/Fox:Ann Marcuson
Travelling Player/Antonio/Fire-eater/Innkeeper/Candlewick: Fergus McLarnon
Travelling Player/Pinocchio:Dale Superville
Director: Emily Gray
Designer: Sophia Lovell Smith
Composer/Lyrics/Musical Director: Ben Glasstone
Commedia dell’arte/Mask work: Antonio Venturino