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Theatre Review: Pinocchio at Nottingham Playhouse

16 December 19 words: Sharon Stevens
photos: Fraser Youngson

We thought it was dead good – look, our noses ain't growin' nor nuffin'.

Most of us know the traditional story of Pinocchio that has been told for many, many years. Well, this version of the story has several twists along with the traditional elements.

The first thing we noticed when entering the studio were the three rows of cushions on the floor on the edge of the set, with two benches on either side behind them. This was so that children could get as close as was possible to the stage. We discovered that this was to enable the cast to be interactive with children in the audience. When entering we were greeted by Geppetto. He walked around the stage and the studio, talking to the children arriving.

Both Geppetto and Pinocchio asked children questions that influenced the direction of the play – initially this was the putting together of the puppet and the colour of one of their jackets. The set was creative and throughout the play its contents were revealed when, for example, doors were opened, catches unhinged, bunting hung up, and drawers were opened to reveal maps, science kits and other snazzy stuff.

There are some adapted and new characters, songs, jokes and lots of funny references to wood. Without revealing too much, my granddaughter and I both loved the Blue Fairy the best. There are also mentions of some of the latest dance moves: the floss, running man, twerk, plus a few moves reminiscing of Elvis and the Macarena.

Both Ben Welch (Geppetto) and Karr Kennedy (Pinocchio) created an atmosphere which helped children who were new to the environment, feel comfortable. Some children cried or spoke out loudly during their performance, but they did not flinch or show any annoyance – they just carried on and when appropriate added the children’s comments. Ben played several characters and had to change his costume several times. His and Karr’s performance were commendable; they sang, danced and moved around the stage with ease.

My granddaughter and I laughed throughout along with the rest of the audience of adults and children. When the show had finished, Amelie’s comment was that it was good, and she would like to see it again. We definitely both highly recommend it.

Pinocchio is on at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 4 January.

Nottingham Playhouse website

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