THEATRE REVIEW: Pinocchio ★★★

National Theatre, London
28th December 2017

Adapted for the stage by Martin Lowe, Pinocchio tells the story of a puppet who forever longs to become a real boy, and on his journey meets some very strange characters along with his best friend, Jiminy Cricket (Audrey Brisson). Following on from his role of director in the critically-acclaimed Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, John Tiffany returns to bring the magic to this stunning production which’ll spark the younger audiences imaginations long after they leave the auditorium, but for the older generations who sit and watch the story unfold, the magic truly fizzes out towards the middle and never truly relights.

What I found truly fascinated by this production was just how grand everything felt, from the puppets, set, and characteristics, and right the way through to the costume. The clever use of having the adult characters such as Geppetto (Mark Hadfield) to be the actual puppets, which towered completely over the puppet characters such as Pinocchio (Joe Idris-Roberts), I found that really astonishing, especially when sat in the third row of stalls, and this felt the same with the large scenic pieces such as the Pleasure Island lettering, which almost made you as an audience member feel like the puppets also. Idris-Roberts I felt to be such a powerful performer in this production, and the chemistry with Brisson was a real delight to watch, as she shone in the role of Jiminy Cricket with her sweet voice and complete conviction of the character.

There were however moments that I believed to be dragged on or rushed, most notably the last section of the production which is staged into the whale’s mouth, where Pinocchio and Jiminy try to save Geppetto. The set piece of the whale was huge but incredibly underwhelming compared to the rest of the production’s set values, but also the rush of this three minute scene meant that I found there to be no real emotion between the puppet maker and his creation, considering that for the majority of the production, Pinocchio is trying to get back to Geppetto. Speaking earlier about the lack of magic, this is a moment, inside of the whale, where I think the whole momentum completely lacked, which is a real shame as some earlier moments such as the initial Blue Fairy (Annette McLaughlin) entrance is utterly spellbinding and effortless, completely capturing my imagination and belief in magic for a split moment.
Overall, Pinocchio is a production that excels in performances from the whole company, not forgetting to mention David Langham who is truly terrifying as ‘The Fox’, and will have children captured by the magic and belief, but for an older audience, this childhood tale will leave you lacking the empathy at moments and wanting more.


Popular Posts