On Thursday 5th April, I went to see Pinocchio at the National Theatre. This performance was an adaptation of the classic Disney tale- a puppet that comes to life and goes on a quest in order to become a ‘real boy’.
As this was not the first theatre production I have seen, I had some expectations of what it would be like. however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this performance was completely different to anything I had seen before. Echoing the idea of Pinocchio as a puppet, all of the main characters apart from Pinocchio himself were presented as huge puppets that filled the stage, with the actors controlling them looking identical to their own puppets. To me, this was the most memorable part of the performance, as the puppets were very impressive in both size and the way the actors controlled them. I loved how the production played with the idea of using puppets- as the story revolves around a puppet wanting to be a real boy, their decision to create puppets as the main characters was very clever and emphasised the main theme of the tale.
The performance was overall very impressive and I enjoyed it a lot. However, I think some would be disappointed by the darker imagery of the play. Not only did the huge puppets dominating the stage frighten me a little when they first appeared due to their huge heads and permanent smiles, but there are also a number of other parts of the production that paint dark imagery, adding unfamiliar, sinister tones to the classic Disney tale we are all familiar with. The most disturbing part to me was when a number of ‘schoolchildren’ came running onto the stage- these ‘children’ wore identical, old-fashioned uniforms and faceless, white masks. They were involved in a nightmare-like scene where they crowded around Pinocchio as sinister music played, the spotlights creating demonic shadows while they morphed into strange shapes with their bodies. Although this part of the play in particular was performed very well and I personally enjoyed it, it felt out of place in both the rest of the performance and in an adaptation of the Disney film. The film did have some dark undertones to the story, but the way that the production brought this out did not seem suitable for children who would not have recognised these darker aspects to the Disney film.
Overall, I think this was a very impressive production of Pinocchio, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I would recommend watching this for the puppets alone, but I also enjoyed the sinister twists that the production included, even if they didn’t feel authentic to the Disney film. I think people should watch this to be exposed to a darker side to the classic tale we are all familiar with.