The Adventures of PINOCCHIO At The Watermill Theatre

For once I get to bring you a review of something that isn’t a film! Each year my family traditionally head to our local independent theatre – the brilliant Watermill at Newbury – to catch up with the Christmas production. Whether it’s Treasure Island, Arabian Nights or Wind In The Willows, it is a cracking night out and the perfect way to get out of the house over the festive period.

This year saw the story of Pinocchio brought to the stage, a story that I believe everybody knows. To a point. It’s a tale that when asked we all go “yeah the puppet who’s nose grows as he lies” but dig a little deeper, question a little bit more, and nobody really knows much more about the story, the characters or whatever exactly happens – unless they have small children and have recently seen the Disney Cartoon.

I fall firmly into the first category, but with a slightly deeper knowledge. I could name a few more characters than just Pinocchio and knew the world in Geppetto lived. However, at no point did I remember that tale being set in a theatre created inside the stomach of a Whale.

Comparing it to other productions at the Watermill, Pinocchio is certainly not the worst, but it’s not the best either. It falls firmly into the middle. I can’t write that is was forgettable, because it isn’t. If asked about it I will remember it, but mainly for the wrong reasons. For whale shaped reasons.

The production and staging are good, it’s a believable world and as with any multi character production on this size of minimalistic scale it all works. The setup, the characters and development of the story all flow well and the pace is perfect, you never feel bored, and you never clock watch.

However, the one problem I have with it, and this will sound slight hypocritical is that there isn’t enough singing/musical numbers. It’s a bit too dialogue heavy. Which you may be thinking for something billed as a Christmas production rather than a pantomime, is what you should and would expect; but it’s the musical numbers that really make these festive productions and sadly Pinocchio just doesn’t hit the right key.

It means it has a tendency, at times, to become a little bit too slapstick, Pinocchio felt on occasions that to lighten the mood and ensure you didn’t feel like you were being preached too about morals or forced to listen to deeper messages about how to live life, that it needed to make things into a joke and it didn’t. Don’t be dead pan serious but don’t write the line “He’s behind you” unless you’re writing a panto!

Although thankfully, at no point did it roll out the “knock knock” jokes.

Next year The Watermill is putting on a production of Peter Pan; my family will attend in our traditional way, and I can honestly say, that if it is to a standard comparable to this year’s Pinocchio, I’ll once again come away with a smile on my face having had a thoroughly enjoyable evening out.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Stage First Edition

Comments are closed.