Fringe Review: Pinocchio

The Screwed and Clued theatre company strips the famous fairytale down to the bear essentials

What do you do when your only set piece falls in the first 10 minutes of your performance? Answer: Do as these sharp and funny actors did – make a quick humorous acknowledgement of that fact and carry on as if nothing had happened.

And carry on they did, providing a fresh, physical and often ingenious retelling (set in the north of England) of this classic tale of initiation.

Using only their bodies, enviable skills as character actors and a big brown teddy bear as the boy puppet, Screwed and Clued takes us on Pinocchio’s long journey from rambunctious wooden puppet to a flesh-and-blood boy with a conscience.

At the outset, the style didn't bode well. At times, the piece seemed to be revisiting physical theatre clichés of the 1980s - a style widespread in working class areas of the UK, brilliantly parodied on British TV show The League of Gentlemen in the form of Ollie Plimsoll's Legz Akimbo theatre.

As the story gets moving and the performance gathers steam, however, the audience is quickly swept up in the trials and tribulations of the little bear-boy-puppet.

Almost entirely in verse, the two actors use a variety of techniques (direct narration, choral speech, self-reflective commentary) to keep the story fresh and our attention sharp.

What appears initially to be a light-hearted romp through well-known terrain becomes increasingly darker; with a stroke of dramaturgic inspiration, a hilarious and extremely tight school sequence is followed by a bold and uncompromising scene of extreme cruelty and horror (I won’t give it away).

Needless to say, eventually Pinocchio is reunited with his father and all ends well – but not before the puppet - and the audience - grow up a little.

For more information on Fringe Festival Praha events see the official website.

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