REVIEW: Pinocchio, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Joseph Hardy as Pinocchio

Joseph Hardy as Pinocchio

A blast of Christmas cheer has hit the Stephen Joseph in the form of its seasonal show Pinocchio.

Pinocchio is the first show directed by the theatre’s new artistic director Paul Robinson – and he does the venue proud.

The show is musical, colourful, witty and fun – with a touch of darkness (the characters do get eaten by a monster fish).

But it’s far from gloomy. The set and costumes are in primary colours – red, blue and yellow – those of the circus.

The four actors play all the characters – ranging from a pirate-like showman to weasels in Christmas jumpers.

They also play musical instruments – guitars, cello, trumpet and accordians. The songs are catchy and the music composed by Scarborough-born Simon Slater influenced by Italian street theatre – jazzy and bright.

The story is based on the fairytale about the wooden puppet who longs to become a real boy. It follows his quest to do just that and he meets a cricket, weasels, friendly farmer, villainous cat and fox, criminals and a monster fish along the way.

Each episode is well signposted and the jokes are child-friendly – there are lessons to be learned about truth and friendship, manners and bravery but this show does not bang the ‘worthy’ drum.

The cast are all multi-talented and likeable. Joseph Hardy plays Pinocchio as a spoiled brat and highlights are Anne-Marie Piazza’s farmer and pirate, Elliott Rennie’s Yorkshire fairy and his and Perola Congo’s Elvis-like weasels.

There are touches of pure magic – the zip wire included – (the boy next to me said out loud that ‘that was really funny’) as well as in-jokes about Bridlington, Filey and Whitby. It is not a pantomime – but it does have its traits includin g every opportunity to hiss and boo the villains and cheer the hero.

And the finale sing-along and in the words of that song ‘this could be the best Christmas [show] ever-ever.

Pinocchio runs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre until December 31 with performances at 10am on December 13, 14, 15, and 16; 1pm on December 13; 2.30pm on December 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31; 5.30pm on December 17; and 7pm on December 20, 21, 22, 23, 28 and 29.

The performance on Tuesday December 13 at 1pm is relaxed; on Wednesday December 21 at 2.30pm, signed; on Thursday December 29 at 7pm, open captioned; and on Friday December 30 at 2.30pm, audio described.

Tickets on 01723 370541 or via the website: www.sjt.uk.com