The Torch Theatre’s take on ‘Pinocchio’ is the venue’s Christmas offering this year, with the magical fairy tale that everyone knows and loves brought to life by a stellar cast and some big screen effects.
The story of the little wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy takes centre stage this festive season with the Torch Theatre’s very own ‘Geppetto’ - artistic director Peter Doran and his magical workshop team, including director James Williams, sprinkling their very own unique fairy tale dust over the production.
When we meet puppet maker Geppetto himself (played by Dudley Rogers), he cuts a very lonely looking figure, who doesn’t get many visitors down his way, until he meets a mysterious blue haired gypsy (Jodie Miccechie) who grants him a wish and a heart for one of his puppets.
Pinocchio (Will Taylor) is the chosen one, and although he just thinks he’s just nothing more than a puppet, wit sawdust in his head, the magical wooden heart, gives him the chance to walk and talk like a real boy!
Soon on his adventures, he meets the rebellious and lively Cricket (Kayed Mohamed-Mason) who initially tells the ‘boy’ to hop it, but soon gets Pinocchio on his side (along with the pupils from Saundersfoot School in the audience) by telling him and his new posse that school is for ‘divvies’ and that teachers ‘stink’, all mixed into a magical rap ‘School Teacher - Don’t Tell Me What To Do!’ which as you can imagine goes down a treat with the watching children.
The pair are soon off on their travels to ‘The Greatest Puppet Show on Earth’ where they encounter the villainous Freddy the Fox (Dion Davies) and his sidekick Felina the cat (Emma Herons) who have a cunning plan to lure old ‘wooden head’ Pinocchio to meet the ultimate puppet maker, Stromboli in Toy Town - with the pretence that it’s a magical place where talking donkeys welcome you!
Freddy wickedly claims that Geppetto has gone mad and rowed off to sea in a storm, but can Pinocchio save the day and continue his journey to becoming a real boy, or will he end up as a shark supper at the bottom of the ocean?!!
This fun packed show is sure to delight the whole family this festive period, and once again for the press preview, it feels like Christmas can finally begin having viewed the Torch Theatre’s annual effort!
The sets, costumes and special effects (with special mention to designer, Sean Crowley; lighting designer, Ceri James; and costumes, Helen Rodgers) are as ever spot on, bringing an authentic Panto look and vibe to the production, and the show itself delivers a heart-warming package full of music, magic and laughter.
The special effects really raise the stakes after the interval, with an underwater big screen shark sequence that would have Spielberg squirming in his director’s chair!
It wouldn’t be a Torch Theatre Christmas show without Dion Davies, and although he gets his teeth into an unfamiliar bad guy role, lapping up the ‘boos and hisses’ to make him feel even foxier in his wicked guise, his classic larger than life dame, given a break this year from delivering belly laughs, was missed at times, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him back, bigger and brassier than ever in that character next year, although Kayed Mohamed-Mason playing both the Cricket and Lampwick does a fine job of assuming the mantle of being the fun focal point, in delivering the wisecracks.
The show ends with a rousing full-cast Christmas chorusc, that will leave you believing that puppets really can come to life at this magical time of the year - and if you don’t, then just don’t be surprised if your nose grows before your eyes on your way home!
Pinocchio at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven which begins Thursday December 20 runs until Saturday, December 30 at various times (including a BSL interpreted performance on Thursday, December 20, and a relaxed performance on Saturday, December 22).