It’s tough to find new ways of presenting a fairytale as well-known and well-loved as Pinocchio without spoiling its inherent charm but theatre company Nearly There Yet have done just that with their delightful Christmas show at the Albany.
With a mix of acting, puppetry, circus and music, director Kaveh Rahnama and writer Mary Swan have turned Collodi’s fable about the wooden-hearted marionette who becomes a big-hearted boy into a magical entertainment for anyone aged between three and 93.
Of course, a theatrical vision is nothing without a cast. And the Albany cast were faultless, with Floria Da Silva as Pinocchio, Umar Butt as Geppetto, Rosie Rowlands as Fox and Ed Stephen as Cat brilliantly showing off their skills as singers, dancers, puppeteers, acrobats and jugglers.
A clever multi-purpose set by Alison Alexander, some even cleverer lighting by Will Monks and an original score by Liam Quinn added even more power to a piece that had the young audience in raptures.
I especially loved one sequence, done in silhouette with cutouts, when our hero was swallowed by a whale and another which featured Da Silva hula-hooping while balancing on a metre-high ball.
And the hit song of the show was undoubtedly the uproarious Deep Sea Blues sung by an angler fish and two prawns.
But among all the laughs there was plenty of emotion too as Pinocchio learnt how to be human the hard way.
It’s to the production’s credit that it managed to keep the fun quotient of this morality tale sky-high and avoided ever sounding preachy.