Following on from the success of their version of “The Wizard Of Oz”, Windmill Theatre – this time along with the State Theatre Company of South Australia – have contemporised another children’s classic, Carlo Collodi’s 1883 Pinocchio.
This is a stunning production both visually and theatrically, and highly stylised. Because of the story’s original nature, the show is a little darker than most of Windmill’s usual fare and therefore may not necessarily hit the mark with the youngest age group of their stated target audience (8 to 108).
Julianne O’Brien’s script is slightly uneven, with some humorous lines, puns and playful breaking of the ‘fourth’ wall one minute and then being bogged down with ‘deep and meaningful’ scenes the next, and the whole story tends to resolve itself too quickly and easily.
It is all the other elements involved that make director Rosemary Myers’ production a cracker; Geoff Cobham’s electrifying lighting design played onto Jonathon Oxlade’s wonderful revolving, multi-purpose tree stump structure that is in turn over-laid by Chris More’s fantastic video designs.
Jethro Woodward’s modern, marvellously upbeat compositions would sit well in any contemporary Broadway hit musical and are added to by Carol Wellman Kelly’s great cheeky movement.
The small cast of seven (Danielle Catanzariti, Jude Henshall, Derik Lynch, Nathan O’Keefe, Geoff Revell, Sam Routledge and Alirio Zavarce) brilliantly perform as if they were a cast of twenty seven. Routledge is, literally, the man (and voice) behind conscience and Greek Chorus, Cricket, and apart from the ‘wooden boy’ himself, would have to be the firm favourite of the youngsters – be sure not to miss his chat at Interval.
As toymaker Geppetto, Zavarce gives a nicely honed fatherly feel to his role; whilst there is probably no other villain as smarmy, suave, sophisticated and just ‘down right’ evil as Revell’s Stromboli (one could say that he ‘revels’ in the role).
Nathan O’Keefe is marvellous as Pinocchio and is such a joy to watch as he bounces seemingly non-stop around the stage. He is gangly; nicely child-like in his actions and characterisation; sings up a storm; and can even make his nose grow.
Even with the slight peculiarities of the script, this production deserves to tour – and that ain’t no lie!