Pinocchio – Jasmin Vardimon company – a delightful, fast and funny feast for the senses

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Our cast of characters

Jasmin Vardimon – a huge dance talent

This is no Disney version of Pinocchio with cartoon crickets singing ‘When you wish upon a Star.’  Much closer to original and rather dark book of the ‘Adventures of Pinocchio’ written by Carlo Collodi in 1883 in Italy; Jasmin Vardimon’s creation is a mesmerising episodic journey from innocence to experience. What’s more, it features some of the most technically innovative physical theatre, storytelling and dance I’ve ever seen.

Fast, funny and with layer upon layer of visual delight with a super talented cast of performers this really is treat of a show

Lies can catch up on you

The ultra clever set of the marionette’s workshop has suspended furniture coming and going on wires and runners throughout the one and half hours (no interval.) Pinocchio’s whole world is manipulated by forces outside himself and he has to learn about the emotions that make us human before he finds himself a real boy after all.

Everything has strings…

The book actually has 36 chapters each set in a  different world, and this production gets through quite a few of them, so it is an incredible achievement to bring this ambitious project  to the relatively modest dimensions of the Dance City stage in Newcastle.

Whip them into shape!

The performance is so layered and with so much detail that you can tell that this has been a collaborative process with the dancers, and is all the richer for it. The characters are delightful. Maria Doulgeri is super elfin and wide eyed as our central focus Pinocchio. Her early scenes were Pinocchio was learning to walk with his new legs was so real and I really liked the emotion of the scenes where Pinocchio learns what it is to be bullied and rejected by his peers but has to go on alone and finally realises he must return home to his father Gepetto.
We absolutely loved the Cat and Fox duo with their arch humour and hilarious bamboozling of poor Pinocchio but my favourite scene was the mad knees up at the Inn of the Red Lobster where everyone was having a high old time at Pinocchio’s expense.

Party on down!

Tables and drinks and customers and chefs were continually moving as the party actually really did take off into the air! A couple of guests to the bar did a small scene where their feet became two characters who sat down at a table and ate some spaghetti a la lady and the Tramp. It was my kind of venue!

Bare foot dining

I also loved the section in the Marionette’s circus where wires were used to propel our puppets into seemingly impossible aerial positions.
It’s not all fun however and Pinocchio also meets real evil on his travels. Assassins rob him and tie him up and at one point he becomes one of the downtrodden donkeys symbolising the peasant workers of the time who were oppressed. Indeed the debate in Italy at the time the book was written, was about whether education could transform the children of peasants and make them into ‘real boys.’

Looks like donkey work to me..

The lighting is also outstanding and incredibly innovative – always so important in dance productions – and the music was an eclectic mix more akin to a film score, which fitted the atmosphere of each scene. One particular highlight is the marionettes dancing their angular version of Beyonces ‘Crazy In Love,’ –  inspired!

I say jump – you say how high?

An awful lot happens in 90 minutes and my mind never wandered for a second. One thing I would say, is this is definitely not particularly a children’s show – although the children that were there loved it too. It is a complex feast for the senses and the brain and in a world where it gets harder and harder to make something new, original and wonderful, Jasmin Vardimon and her company have pulled it off seemingly with the greatest of ease.

Pinocchio is born

Check out other dates for this awesome performance here