I was invited to review the premiere of Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company’s new adaption of of Carlo Collodi’s classic story Pinocchio at Lighthouse, Poole. The story of a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy, Pinocchio has entertained families for generations, so I was keen to see the Bridport-based production company’s contemporary take on one of my childhood favourite tales.
Stuff and Nonsense started work on Pinocchio, their biggest production to date, long before the first lockdown of 2020. They always work with children to devise their plays because they have the most amazing ideas and imagination certainly shone through the performance.
Highly physical, the story involved the company’s staples of puppetry and live music and featured three actors representing father, son and grandfather who find themselves in a grand, old abandoned house. The show centred around a huge dining table, the heart of family life, which became the performers’ playground, crammed with hidden drawers and compartments where puppets popped out and the actors jumped and flipped over.
If you’re hoping for a production that very much sticks to the 19th century classic, this isn’t the show for you. All the elements of the original story are there, a poor woodcarver, the tell-tale growing nose, the dream of becoming a real boy, but you really have to unlock your imagination to truly enjoy the energetic, thought-provoking adaption Stuff and Nonsense have created.
My little boy is nearly three and Pinocchio was his first trip to the theatre, so I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go. But I was amazed. He sat still for the entire production, just over an hour, and seemed fascinated by the puppetry and live music, clapping along and talking to us about what he was seeing on stage. It was so lovely to be a part of. And as we walked out the theatre, he turned to me and said: “Mummy, I liked that.” High praise indeed for a toddler who at times can be very hard to please!
It was so great being back in a theatre again after what has been an extremely difficult time for the arts sector. The show was extremely clever and I was very impressed by the fantastic use of staging, which is definitely one of the key elements, along with the lively music, that kept my little boy transfixed throughout.
Pinocchio plays at Theatre Royal Plymouth over Christmas before touring next year. So if you’re looking for something a little different to your average panto then check it out!