Pinocchio at St Paul’s Church
In 1940, producer Walt Disney turned Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio into a global sensation. Since then, it’s become one of the most popular stories on the planet, igniting the imagination and empathy of children from mountain valleys to city skyscrapers. Despite Rousseau’s hypothesis that fables are beguiling and “buy delight at the expense of clarity”, they remain a principle pedagogical tool in moral development, and continue to shape the world today.
In this production, Pinocchio is a small puppet who comes to life and runs away from his maker to explore the world. He wants to have adventures and live like a real child, but nothing is quite what it seems when he meets a slinky cat, an avaricious fox, a strict teacher, a devious boy and a covetous madam. And just when he begins to think he’s escaped, it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire, as he’s swallowed whole by a leviathan.
Jonathan Mulquin has a calm charisma as Geppetto, a seductive voice as Mr Fox and exactly the right amount of visceral intensity for a ringmaster. Together with Mrs Cat (Emma Darlow) he creates an atmosphere worthy of David Lean’s Oliver Twist as they tie the verbose Pinocchio up. It’s a promenade show, staged outside; the children move between sets and often the characters interact with the audience, sitting amongst them in the “classroom” and tickling people at the “funfair”. There are puppets too – in fact, they are used to tell a great deal of the story.
But it’s as much a pilgrimage as anything else, a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment and a journey to become a real boy or a moral human being. It’s also about ideas, deconstructing supposition, questioning what the experts say, learning and thinking for oneself in an increasingly specious society. Dark and complex, it’s based more on the book than the film, and it’s much more interesting. It’s funny in places, too, and hyperbole aside, kids will benefit not just from the singing, which they can join in with, but from the philosophy. Daniel Winder has done a fine job turning Collodi’s fascinating story into an intriguing piece of social commentary, as he guides the audience through the quagmire of secularism.
Photos: Hannah Barton
Pinocchio is on at St Paul’s Church from 29th July until 29th August, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Pinocchio here:
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