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Pinocchio - Review

The Above The Stag’s annual adult Panto is fast becoming an essential part of Christmas celebrations and a perfect way to kick off December. The two writers, Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, have been providing the script for the annual Panto for several years so have plenty of experience and somehow seem to have hit on the perfect Panto formula.

This year we are transported to the Italian village of placenta, where we meet new arrivals Geppetta, a puppet-maker, and her niece Cornetta (a great debut by Christy Bellis) who are on the run from the law. Given it’s Pinocchio I would be surprised if anyone wasn’t aware of the overall story so I’ll spare you a synopsis. And the story is unimportant to an extent. The strength lies in a strong script with a combination of corny and crude jokes with a few contemporary political ones thrown into the mix (although I’ve been told there were too many fart jokes). It starts with the hilarious Dami Olukoya greeting “all the boys and girls in the audience” and you are encouraged to join in all the usual Panto lines, with the audience getting more raucous in the second act following a couple of interval drinks.

The music is cheerful and upbeat, as you’d want from a Panto, with impressive lyrics. The choreography is simple, being fittingly cheesy and over the top. There is an impressive set (including a scene in a whale’s mouth) which is bright and colourful adding to the overall charm of the show. And it’s impressive how easily they make Pinocchio grow when he lies (it’s not his nose…).

The cast of the show were superb. Matthew Baldwin has impressed as the dame in previous Pantos and he did not disappoint here. His big personality, excellent voice and brilliant comic timing make him the perfect leading lady. We were delighted to see Briony Rawle back, after her star turn as the villain last year, this time as a sassy demanding cat. The villain this time was played by Christopher Lane who was suitably dastardly. The rest of the cast are all new to Above the Stag and they threw themselves enthusiastically into their roles. We have Jared’s cutely naïve Pinocchio, Oli’s dimwitted Joe and Shane’s romantic yet down on his luck Pedro. We loved them all!

I imagine getting a Panto right is an extremely difficult task but when it comes together the way this does it’s worth the effort and you are in for a giant treat of an evening. As we can’t think of a corny Pinocchio related line to say the next part well just be super clear – it’s raucous, loud and fun and you’re guaranteed a great night out. So leave the kids at home and head on over. We give this 4 stars! Get tickets before it sells out!


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