REVIEW: PINOCCHIO (National Theatre) ★★★★

Pinocchio is one of those stories that I thought I knew but then realised I really didn’t at all. I knew there was a cricket and a whale and a boy with a nose that grew every time he told a lie but all the other details were a bit fuzzy.

This production is written by Dennis Kelly, with songs and score from the Walt Disney film by Leigh Harline, Ned Washington & Paul J Smith and adapted by Martin Lowe. It tells the story of an old puppet maker Geppetto who creates a puppet out of a very special magical tree that makes the boy seem almost a real human. Pinocchio wishes he could be like all his other school friends and will do anything to become real. But his naivety in the world leads him to become easily mislead and used for other people’s gain and he runs away from Geppetto and has to learn some serious lessons about life and consequences along the way.

The puppetry in the show is brilliantly done, with Geppetto as a giant head, whilst the actor, dressed the same as the puppet, operates it below. This helps to give the illusion that Pinocchio is a small puppet and helps to tell the story. Joe Idris-Roberts is a great Pinocchio, perfectly embodying all of the characteristics of the character and avoiding any cliche attempts to pretending to look like a puppet. Mark Hadfield is a wonderfully warm father figure as Geppetto, David Langham brings brilliant humour to the Fox and Dawn Sievewright is hilarious as the bundle of naughty energy that is Lampy.

Pinocchio probably isn’t the greatest of Disney‘s stories but this is a very nice production that is well worth seeing this Christmas. The magical effects and puppetry make the show stand out and there are some brilliant performances from the cast.

Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Manuel Harlan