by Daniel Winder
inspired by the book by Carlo Collodi.
St Paul’s Church Bedford Street Covent Garden WC2E 9ED To 29 August 2015.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
Review: William Russell 3 August.
A practically perfect puppet show and Heath Robinson lives.
Once again Iris Theatre have come up with the perfect summer outing for the family with this of the famous tale of Pinocchio, the puppet who wanted to become human, written by Carlo Collodi in 1881.
The seven strong cast play all the parts displaying admirable versatility.
But, actors apart, there are puppets to admire, especially the birds, lots of jolly songs with tinkly tunes,much audience interaction, and some amazing machines which show that the spirit of Heath Robinson still lives. If there is a flaw it is that perhaps it goes on a little too long and towards the end Pinocchio’s adventures get slightly confused and confusing.
But it hardly matters and when the audience, which has been paraded round the gardens of St Paul’s to watch the incidents in Pinocchio’s life, ends up having to walk into the church, transformed into the maw of the whale which has swallowed him one can forgive those few longeurs.
Daniel Winder has directed his entertainment, which is rather bleaker than that conjured up by Disney in the famous film, with invention, Alicia Britt’s puppets are out of this world, and, while it is invidious to name names, both Nick Howard-Brown as the cricket who narrates the tale as well as a sadistic schoolmaster and Jonathan Mulquin as Gepetto, Mr Fox and the Ring Master in the Land of Fun who exploits small children really are amazing transforming themselves with not much more than a change of wig, into totally different characters.
Nick Pack is a fine Pinocchio, not really loveable, rather spiky, with his head encased in a peculiar metal head piece – and yes, his nose really does grow when he lies. But the really great thing about this production is nobody is miked and every word can be heard. These actors know how to speak. It is, of course, a moral tale because the puppet-son toymaker Gepetto creates is a very naughty wilful child indeed who has to learn the error of his ways before being granted his wish to become human and the lessons in how to live one’s life come across loud and clear.
Dita/Mrs Cat: Emma Darlow.
Green Cricket/School Master/Green Fisherman: Nick Howard-Brown.
Lampwick/Blackbird: Simon Kent.
Mistress Cherry/Eugene/Snail/Tunny: Annabel King.
Gepetto/Mr Fox/Ring Master: Jonathan Mulquin.
Blue Fairy/Abrianna: Laura Wickham.
Director: Daniel Winder.
Designer: Amber Scarlett.
Lighting: Benjamin Polya.
Sound: Filipe Gomes.
Composer: Candida Caldicot.
Costume: Denise Anderson.
Puppet Master: Alicia Britt.
Movement: Stephanie Britt.