Pinocchio: Theater review by Raven Snook
Pino, I don't think we're in Disney anymore. This dark and dazzling collaboration from the Windmill Theatre and the State Theatre Company of South Australia replaces the schmaltz of the 1940 cartoon with snark and satire, bringing it much closer to Carlo Collodi's original 19th-century cautionary tale.
The premise is more or less as you remember: a lonely, childless toy maker, Geppetto (Alirio Zavarce), fashions himself a puppet son, Pinocchio (Nathan O'Keefe, simultaneously adorable and infuriating), who soon begins to rebel by lazing, lying (yep, his nose grows) and running away. Manipulated by vicious one-percenter Stromboli (Paul Capsis, an audience favorite despite trotting out the old mincing evil-queen routine) as well as their own hedonistic desires, Pinocchio and his wayward pals Foxy and Kitty Poo (Mitchell Butel and Jude Henshall) go on a series of perilous adventures that are realized through wildly inventive stage magic on a versatile wooden set. Jonathon Oxlade's Bunraku puppetry, Chris More's psychedelic video projections and moody (if mumbled) rock songs by Jethro Woodward are all standouts.
From the opening motorcycle crash with the Blue Fairy (impish Danielle Catanzariti) to our hero's late-stage rescue of his lost-at-sea pop, Pinocchio never lets up its breakneck pace—so it's hard to get invested emotionally. But director Rosemary Myers gives audiences of all ages plenty to look at, laugh at and listen to. The production may not melt your heart, but it totally blows your mind.—Raven Snook
New Victory Theater (see Off Broadway). By Julianne O'Brien. Directed by Rosemary Myers. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.