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The Adventures of Pinocchio  

Breakaway have done it again – a very different type of play from them – Pinocchio, but a more adult version, although children would also appreciate it.  Quite anarchic and dark in some places, but with fun and interest throughout.

A good first outing for Director John Kensett, who we are more used to seeing on stage.  

The minimal set – of two portable black box structures, which were moved about, drawn on and props added, worked well, and suited the play and the venue.  I particularly liked the drawing of flames for the fire on one of the sides of the box – so that cooking could be done – innovative and amusing.

Lighting was a bit hit and miss on occasions, but on the whole it suited the piece.

It was good to see a number of new faces, and to be able to hear every word.

The use of Tom Tattershall with his guitar was very good – the incidental music created the right sort of atmosphere, and the original music from Owain Jones was also super, I enjoyed that aspect as much as the play, as it integrated well and added dimension to the production.  The music for the beach/water scene was very atmospheric.

I liked the overall costume concept – there were some super costumes and some good assimilations.

The Cricket was a really good example – the glowing green globe on the end of a stick, which went out when Pinocchio stamped on it was fun, and the costume of Spike Griffiths as  the operator/physical incarnation of the Cricket was good too.  It showed imagination.

I liked the school section – very St Trinain's, but it really suited the feel of the play, and the cast got into the ethos of school kids with attitude.

The playland scene was also all action, and it was nice to see other skills being used, e.g. the unicycle and juggling – along with other more usual playground games, this made for a good action scene – and contrasted with the more sober scenes.  The song was a good addition, that added even more interest to the scene.

I loved Pinocchio's costume and the wood effects on his legs, arms and face – really imaginative and well done – it made the transition into a real boy so much more noticeable.

Frankie Bolton created a good character as Pinocchio – she got the naughtiness and naivety well, for a first major role Frankie did very well, and acted with confidence and energy.

For me, probably the stand out character was Niamh White as the Cat – she seemed to be under the skin of a cat from the start, and kept the character so well throughout.  Costume and makeup for this character were also particularly good.

Rob Lewis was a wily Fox – again a good costume, although I would have liked to have seen a slightly bushier tail.  He interacted well with the Cat, but perhaps needed a little more slyness towards Pinocchio.  The paperbag trick was nicely accomplished.

Ashley Wade created several rather good characters – the school teacher and his sneezing fit was very nicely managed, and gave the younger people in the audience a nicely yukky moment, whilst causing much amusement with the older audience members.

Some of the ensemble could have been a little more expressive, but as for most it was their first experience with the Company, they did very well.

Clare Waller and Lewis Harrison-Barker created very good characters – I enjoyed their performances very much, and Lewis, Spike and Abi Giles as the doctors, were very OTT, which again was a contrast to the other characters.

Jody Stewart looked the part as the girl with blue hair, who was supposed to be dead – I perhaps needed a more of an ethereal quality to contrast with the 'alive' characters, but she certainly fulfilled the expectation of the part for me.

Stephanie Jones was a very feisty Gepetta – I am more used the stereotypical kindly Gepetto, so this was a surprise and also a different take on the role – nicely done.

Charlotte Gilbert was Lampwick the night I attended – and she created a good character.

There was loads of pace and action amongst the quieter moments, which kept the interest going, there was an occasional drop in pace, but on the whole it was maintained throughout, which was very good for a first night.  I liked the energy that principals injected into their performances, I would have liked to see a little more confidence from the ensemble members at times, but that will come with more experience.

The Maltings Theatre is a good venue for Breakaway, as the plays they do are often the sort that are better done in a more intimate environment, which I very much enjoy.  So another good production, perhaps not quite the impact of other productions, but still an interesting and enjoyable evening.

Breakaway Theatre Company

The Adventures of Pinocchio

Dramatised by Lee Hall directed by John Kensett

review date: 30th October 2012

Maltings Theatre, St.Albans

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