Pinocchio

Wolverhampton Grand

****

IAN Adams seems to be attempting to invent a new genre with his latest offering – the summer pantomime.

He has taken Carlo Collodi’s tale of the mischievous puppet and added a twist; kindly old woodcarver Geppetto has gone to that toyshop in the sky leaving his widow, Mrs Geppetto, in charge of the store.

Mrs Geppetto, of course, being Adams in his alter ego as a dame, a part he played in the 10 years of pantomimes he wrote and directed at Lichfield Garrick up to last year, and a part he will be playing in Aladdin, the Grand’s panto this year.

And, as panto needs a baddy, he is also the evil ring mistpinocchioress Renata with her puppet circus and penchant for turning children into donkeys to be worked to death on Christmas Island, a place that can be found in a sea of corny, old jokes – the staple of what is normally festive fare.

Adams and Julie Paton, who plays the Blue Fairy, recently formed StarDam Productions to bring children’s tales to the stage, starting with Puss in Boots a couple of years ago at Lichfeld Garrick.

Does it work? Well, to adults it might seem a little like an Aussie Christmas with barbequed turkey on the beach, but kids didn’t seem to mind. The problem with half term and summer children’s shows though is the age groups are different from panto, in general it is a younger audience.

A trip to the theatre is still be a treat but it is also something for parents and grandparents to do with younger children in school holidays.

Thus with such a young audience quite a few of the standard panto jokes and puns fell on deaf little ears but they are at such a rapid pace from a seasoned dame such as Adams that there was no time to lose interest.

Adams and Paton keep things moving at a fair old pace with good support from David Brewis as Pinocchio, with a clever costume and a nice growing nose trick, and Amy Thiroff and Lizzie Alderston as everyone else, including the naughty boys Dick and Dom.

All the cast combined well in that panto favourite If I were not . . . in this case upon this ship, a routine that takes a lot of rehearsal and one which was beautifully executed.

Adams has also produced a good yet simple set, with a huge book with turning pages providing not only visual interest but also a changing backdrop for each scene and the songs, including what is becoming his signature tune as a dame, I don’t care, were lively enough to stop little minds from wandering.

StarDam’s idea of adapting traditional tales is a change from the more usual fare of bringing children’s TV shows or modern bedtime story books to the stage but perhaps considering the age of half term target audiences a little less panto and a little more play school when it comes to the patter might not go amiss.

Roger Clarke

01-6-16 

Index page Grand Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre