The Christmas season might be drawing to a close but that doesn’t mean you have to put away the festive spirit just yet…oh no it doesn’t! Panto season is in its final few weeks, so why not catch something familiar…something…wooden. I’m obviously talking about Pinocchio at the The Secombe, Sutton.
I’ve previously discussed my mixed feelings for pantomimes but Pinocchio intrigued me because I’ve never seen it produced for this format before. It’s a classic story, so why not jazz it up a bit? Panto can always be a bit of a guilty pleasure and Christmas is all about indulging.
Whilst Mirror Mirror, the first panto I saw this season, was more changed in its conventions, Sutton Theatres’ production was straight up family slapstick – written by Micha Colombo, directed by Peter Darney and choreographed by Alex Scurr.
Gepetto lives in the small Italian village of Suttoni (just go with it) and is given a hunk of wood for his birthday by Mama Carla (Daniel Beales). This awakens Gepetto’s desire to carve figures and out pops Pinocchio (Alastair Crosswell) who, as we all know, comes alive. However, all is not well for the puppet boy who gets into trouble with the help of feline foes Mr Fox (Chris Kiely) and Miss Cat (Melissa Suffield).It’s a brave thing to include all original music at a family pantomime but the songs – singing abilities aside – covered all the bases from catchy, to sad, to fun. There was a great number between villains Mr Fox and Miss Cat, who were characters you loved to hate and who I just loved.
Pinocchio had a youthful charm that the audience reacted to and Gepetto played the concerned father role well. As a new addition to the tale, Mama Carla made great use of the role in that she was everything you would want from a Dame. And we have to take a second to talk about Pinocchio’s nose – almost a character in itself. It didn’t grow to exuberant proportions but was cleverly crafted to give the full growing effect.
Panto wouldn’t be panto without flaws, laughs, surprises and all the little things that are put into each performance. Pinocchio wasn’t perfect, but if pantomimes were faultless they wouldn’t be so much fun. The audience cheered along and it was good old-fashioned family entertainment.
With just one week left, this could be a great way to see out the festivities and welcome in an exciting new year of theatre.
Pinocchio is on until 9 January, 2015. Click here for tickets.