Location: Chichester Festival Theatre


By Tim Saunders

Watching the live stream of Pinocchio at Chichester Festival Theatre with Pinocchio trapped inside the sea monster with his dad, reminds me of the lorry drivers stuck at Dover in the Covid queues.

Where 30 minute virus checks might have come to the rescue of some, Pinocchio and his dad are able to quickly tickle their way out of the cavernous creature forcing it to spew them up. If only life was so simple.

It is enjoyable not knowing what is going to happen next in this riveting new adaptation by Anna Ledwich and also inspiring for our children to see actors of their age on the stage.

At the start of the show of course this little wooden puppet’s nose grows when he lies, it has to but as he goes through life’s challenges he learns to be a good boy and in so doing keeps that nose under control. Our attention is held as we follow Pinocchio and his guardian angels the fairy and the cricket. We like the cricket’s trousers that echo the character of this creature.

Chichester Festival Youth Theatre has some stars in the making here with strong performances from all during this socially distanced production. It’s a dazzling musical performance full of interesting costumes and memorable tunes including Wonderland that gets the family singing along and clapping, too. Henry particularly enjoys the costumes which let the imagination run riot. He likes the frog with its large feet and is curious about how the tails belonging to the cat and fox move. Then there’s the interesting armature for the bird’s beak. “What is that?” questions Henry (4). Harriett (9) and I enjoy the boat and how it moves across the sea but also the massive fishing hook that catches Pinocchio and then lets him go when the fisherman realises he hasn’t caught a fish. The candy cane and lollipops stand out nicely on the stage, too.

At the end when Pinocchio tells his father about his journey that included losing his money, his under sea adventure and turning into a donkey as well as getting an A star in maths, he is truthful. The overriding message though one of embracing difference. Although this is streamed and we’re sat in our living room the experience is set apart from watching a film for the simple reason that it is astounding how the whole performance can be produced on a stage by clever scene changes and that magic is translated into our home. We experience a few hiccups thanks to my annoying HP laptop deciding to update itself despite me connecting to the stream 10 minutes before the 2pm opening. Just before it throws a wobbly we catch the director, I think, showing us around backstage before the performance and sharing the news that there’s a global audience about to watch this show. Sadly, we miss a few minutes of the start but it could be so much worse, knowing how my machine has behaved in the past. Halfway through Henry decides to roll his water bottle onto the laptop on the floor as it’s connected to a projector for a larger screen. Thankfully the lid is closed. The computer freezes and we lose another five minutes but we’re able to get back online. The quality of the stream and our non-superfast broadband delivers a perfectly streamed performance and the sound is excellent too, which is an achievement in itself; the other day we tried watching a Christmas carol service but couldn’t hear it.

So, overall a great experience and well worth watching.

On until January 2, 2021

Star rating

4 gold stars

Tickets from £10

Downloadable theatre programme £2

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