by Carlo Collodi adapted by Angela Miguel.
Little Angel Theatre 24 Dagmar Passage N1 27 January 2013.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7226 1787.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 December.
Pinoccho, and Pinocchio both brought to life.
Though it takes a place among the pantheon of folk tales brought out at Christmas, and adapted by Disney, Pinocchio has a different ancestry. The story of the ‘pine-eyed’ puppet who wants to earn humanity but behaves in ways that prevent him developing is a consciously moral tale, from late 19th century Italy, that can seem over-contrived and earnest.
Using puppets brings out the playfulness in the adventures and the innocent childishness of Pinocchio. And Peter O’Rourke’s Little Angel production makes the most of the pace of Pinocchio’s adventures, while the puppet so carefully carved at the opening by Pinocchio’s ‘father’, the woodcarver Geppetto, evokes a range of the choices childhood faces between what should happen and what provides immediate, so-tempting, enjoyment.
Spoken words expressing the choices and temptations and the stylised movement of the puppet offset each other, reinforcing mental processes and their physical results. And every physical aspect is handled with beautiful detail, from the three puppeteers who help the newly-created Pinocchio rise unsteadily, stand and sway about until he has – perhaps literally – found his feet, taking his first unsteady steps, through the creatures he meets, to the importance of the physical environment.
Geppetto starts the action worrying whether to take off his coat to ‘feel the benefit’ when he puts it on to go out, or to wear it in the workshop he can’t afford to heat. It makes the moment when Pinocchio realises his ‘father’ has sold the coat to buy him a book for school significant, without labouring the point.
There’s, naturally, skilful depiction of the creatures met along the way. And, after Pinocchio’s made a donkey of himself by refusing to learn, his better self is shown, movingly in all senses, as this big-eared version, realising Geppetto’s put himself in danger for his creation’s sake, dashes desperately along, knees bending as he races to the rescue.
Even the detailed workshop setting comes into its own as Pinocchio transforms, to his and the audience’s happy surprise, into a human actor, and the space is left with its saw-like sign proudly reading ‘Geppetto and Son’.
Performers: Jonny Dixon, Stewart Fraser, Lori Hopkins, Mandy Travis.
Director/Designer/Puppets: Peter O’Rourke.
Lighting: Sarah Cowan.
Music: Pete Flood.
Costume: Julia Jeulin.