book by Brian Hill music & lyrics by Neil Bartram.
Greenwich Theatre Crooms Hill SE10 8ES To 23 August 2015.
Tue-Fri 3pm Sat 12pm Sun 12pm & 3pm.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8858 7755.
Review: William Russell 7 August.
Well-cast and the right length if not always well-aimed at its audience.
Two musicals about Pinocchio in one week is going it some. It would be nice to report this version matched up to the one in the gardens of St Paul’s, Covent Garden, staged by Iris Theatre, which I saw at the beginning of the week, but it does not.
It does, however, have several things in its favour, above all the length, given the attention span of the audience it is intended for.
The problem with the show, which makes effective use of puppets, especially shadow puppets, lies partly in the book, but much more in Neil Bartram’s lyrics which are way above the heads of the under-tens who made the bulk of the audience I saw it with. His music also includes songs which can stretch a word out to fit the melody reducing its sense.
However, director Bronagh Lagan is lucky in her cast, five strong and versatile, and has come up with some theatrical tricks which may well linger in the memory of the audience.
A vast sheet of white silken material is floated to form a stormy sea on which a small boat floats, and then become the cavernous interior of a whale. It is an old trick, but one which works and which will be new to the watchers.
Christian James makes a pleasant Pinocchio although he is really a little too tall, while Martin Neely as Geppetto, the woodcarver who has made the puppet, is a shade too young. James Charlton and Ceris Hine are a splendid Fox and Cat, among other characters, and Rachel Louise Miller sings sweetly as the Blue Fairy who guides Pinocchio’s life.
Whereas with Iris one felt the show was tailored for its audience, with this one somehow it is too grown up for its own good, but not grown up enough to entertain adults as well. However, there would be worse places to be on a wet afternoon than watching it.
Pinocchio: Christian James.
Geppetto: Martin Neely.
Fox/Lampwick: James Charlton.
Cat/Puppet Master/Mary/Ensemble: Ceris Hine.
Fairy/Storyteller/Driver/Annette: Rachel Louise Miller.
Director: Bronagh Lagan.
Designer/Costume: Nik Corrall.
Lighting: David Howe.
Sound: Dominic Bilkey.
Musical Director: Freddie Tapner.
Choreographer: Grant Murphy.
Puppet Consultant: Zoe Higgins.