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  • Dress Circle Reviews

Pinocchio Gets Wood (Adult Panto)

(L-R) Rachel Warrick-Clarke, Daniel Page, Andrew Franklin, Tamsin Lynes (kneeling)

“Oh yes we did!” It’s September and panto season is already underway with the Guildford Fringe Theatre Company bringing us their Adult Panto “Pinocchio Gets Wood”, proving to us we don’t have wait for Christmas for smutty cheer.

We approached this online show with some caution. Online shows can’t recreate the feeling of live theatre because in essence they aren’t live (even though they are streamed live). When Matt Smith and Claire Foy performed Lungs in an empty theatre they benefited from the fact that the show wouldn’t have had a huge amount of noise from the audience anyway, but it still didn’t feel live as nothing can recreate the feeling of sitting in the theatre as the lights go down. But for a panto this is even more apparent as it hinges on a receptive audience so removing the audience reaction makes for a very different experience for both the audience and the actors.

However, a panto also relies on the enthusiasm and commitment of the actors and in this we weren’t disappointed. With a small cast of just 4, numerous roles were covered. We were immediately captivated by Rachel Warrick-Clarke as “Juliet Myflange” (and others) with her strong voice and excellent comic timing. Daniel Page kept us all entertained as the classic Dame with knowing looks and smutty monologues.

The script gave the actors ample scope to play with the fact the audience weren’t there, even adding in “audience noise” at the most appropriate places. Using a pre-show questionnaire and reacting in real time to online comments gave the show as interactive a feel as possible. It feels like it was written with a live audience in mind but the cast overcame this admirably with strong performances and they kept the show uplifting and energetic as only true professionals can. It’s filmed directly on a small stage with a colourful village scene behind. They cleverly have a minimal set to avoid taking away space unnecessarily and the small stage helps to give the show a more intimate feel.

The story itself is a re-telling of the classic Pinocchio story, where it’s not his nose which grows when he lies… The crassness and crudeness is there throughout, beginning in the shows first line, which is exactly what you are signing up for. James Chalmers’ script is crammed with plenty of laugh out loud moments, if it was live the theatre would be bursting with laughter. We particularly enjoyed the class roll call (with surnames like Myflange you can see where this will go). All the classic elements were there, with plenty of up to date references and more than the odd Covid reference (which is obviously the reason it’s online). For music they took some well-known pop songs with amended lyrics and fittingly hilarious choreography from Charlotte Bateup.

This 3-star show gives you plenty of laughs, but make sure the kids are safely tucked in bed. We feel adult panto is better with a few drinks (although that might just be us), but if you agree then prep with a couple of drinks and you’ll have a fabulous hour of fun.

You only have two days left to catch it (until Saturday 12th September). They have live Pantomimes planned for the Christmas season, giving you plenty to look forward to. Get tickets here


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