Al Fresco Pinocchio Is Anything But Wooden
There are plenty of outdoor theatre shows in the summer but the magnificent 17th Century St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden is something special. With the noise and chaos of the piazza just outside, we initially wondered what magic would be needed to make the actors' voices audible above the hubbub. Yet once inside the enclosed garden, an oasis of creativity surrounded by offices and flats, the London nightlife became insignificant as we were absorbed by the unfolding tale.
Iris Theatre has been putting on summer shows here since 2009. For their Pinocchio the story is taken back to the 19th Century Italian original. It is a tale with much more depth than the popular Disney version, exploring themes of death, loss and love. It begins on a sad note as Geppetto the toymaker buries his only child, and then tries to build a mechanical replacement. Nick Pack plays the sinister clockwork toy that longs to be a real boy and Nick Howard-Brown is mesmerising as the Green Cricket who pulls the story together.
The show uses a mixture of physical theatre, songs and delicate puppetry to keep the mixed-age audience engaged. Viewers are enticed into different sections of the churchyard as the story progresses. We sat on small benches within spitting distance of the actors, who encourage younger audience members to get involved. The show pleases both adults and children. Our seven-year-old was enthralled throughout, and an unexpected surprise at the end brought gasps of delight.
Pinocchio is on at Iris Theatre, Bedford Street, WC2E 9ED until 29 August. Tickets £12-£17.99. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
By Alice Grahame
Last Updated 14 August 2015