Review: Pinocchio, National

“Do you want puppets?”

No matter the weather, as you walk into the Lyttelton’s auditorium for Pinocchio, you’ll find that it is snowing. A simple trick but one that inspires just the right childlike wonder for an adaptation of such a popular fairytale, but it is also a sense of magic that John Tiffany’s production of Dennis Kelly’s adaptation sometimes struggles to hold onto, as darkly disturbing as it is exuberantly heartfelt.

That darkness comes from several directions. The narrative cleaves closely to the moral instruction of a fable so Pinocchio’s struggle with the dark side is presented as a straight-up choice between good and evil – make the wrong choice in dealing with the Fox or the Coachman and things could end up pretty grim, as we witness in a particularly brutal bit of puppet mutilation (it shocked even me!). Continue reading “Review: Pinocchio, National”

Review: Eyes Closed, Ears Covered, Bunker

“Don’t you ever say you’re a terrible son”

The latest copy of the Beano, an illicit jar of Marmite and a day trip to Brighton – the stuff of the best kind of childhood memories. So even though they’re bunking off school, now-teenage best pals Seb and Aaron are onto something in trying to recreate the magic. But something’s not quite right, something’s not quite the same, and given that the play starts with Aaron being questioned by a police officer, something’s most definitely up.

Alex Gwyther’s Eyes Closed, Ears Covered is beautifully put together in the way that it reveals just what that is – exploring the intersection of past trauma on present behaviour, questioning the durability of the human spirit and the lengths it will go to try to survive. Tightly constructed by Gwyther and directed with real suspense by Derek Anderson, its a powerful addition to the programme at the Bunker Theatre as its first birthday fast approaches. Continue reading “Review: Eyes Closed, Ears Covered, Bunker”