- Rowena McIntosh
- 12 December 2019
Citizens Theatre production captures the darkness and humour in the classic puppet tale
While the Citizens Theatre building undergoes some serious redevelopment, the company's Christmas production – an adaption of Carlo Collodi's tale of a mischievous wooden puppet – is staged at Tramway.
The villains in Pinocchio are suitably dastardly and there is a brief nod to panto troupes (a rendition of 'oh no it isn't' and a quick dig at another Glasgow theatre) but the show is firmly grounded in theatrical storytelling rather than larger-than-life caricatures. Detailed scene setting means a wait before we witness that first telltale sign of a lie, courtesy of an extendable radio aerial nose.
Pinocchio is performed as an ensemble piece, with actors not only taking on multiple roles but artfully providing the live music and sound effects from the visible wings. The five-strong group of actors from the Royal Conservatoire bring bags of energy to the role of the local boys, cavorting around the stage and relishing in bad behaviour. Rachael Canning's set is glorious, with colourful food stalls, a garish waltzer car and a thoroughly chilling whale puppet vividly creating the story's multitude of settings. This bold set design, alongside the animated cast, delivers several high-octane scenes where the danger feels tangible.
There are dashes of humour too, from baddies exasperated by the puppet's many questions to some raucous poop puns in a classroom setting that delights all ages. Tenderly operated, puppet Pinocchio's desire to fit in with his peers is relatable and his love for papa Geppetto sweet, but Cricket's fleeting appearances leaves their relationship feeling underdeveloped. Recommended for ages six and up, Pinocchio's artful staging and talented ensemble make it a truly visual Christmas treat.
Tramway, Glasgow, until Sat 4 Jan.