Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Julia Pattison
Theatre Correspondent
8:59 AM 30th November 2023

A Compelling Pinocchio Arrives In Hull

PInocchio The Company
Photos by Ian Hodgson
PInocchio The Company Photos by Ian Hodgson
Panto isn’t for everyone (oh no, it isn't!), and Artistic Director (and Director of Pinocchio) Mark Babych said in the programme introduction, "We believe in the power of theatre to create lasting memories, and we hope the heartwarming story of Pinocchio is the perfect backdrop for a magical Christmas adventure that will captivate both young and old alike." Judging from the reactions of the audience, both young and old, after stepping into the enchanting world of Pinocchio on press night, I would say that Hull Truck Theatre has succeeded in their mission.

Bronia Housman's sumptuous set provided the perfect backdrop as the band of storytellers drew us into their magical world, captivating us from the start.

James Clyde Eliza Blair
Photos by Ian Hodgson
James Clyde Eliza Blair Photos by Ian Hodgson
We felt Gepetto’s joy (movingly portrayed by James Clyde) when he created the son he’d always craved, and we warmed to Pinocchio (played with childlike wonder by Eliza Blair) as he showed he had a heart but a headful of nothing and was extremely gullible. Luckily, Pinocchio had the graceful Blue Spirit (delightfully portrayed by Fatima Niemogha) on his side, as Michael Hugo, playing Fox, and Joanna Holden, playing Cat, were the dastardly duo we loved to hate and played their parts to perfection. Enter Cricket to try to help our hero on his journey. Deb Pugh was superb in the role and looked amazing in her inspired costume, one of many fabulous creations designed by Sian Thomas. The collaboration and dedication of script writer Mike Kenny with composer John Biddle, puppet makers John Barber and Liz Dees, and the many behind-the-scenes creatives created a rich tapestry of storytelling, making you laugh out loud one moment, then be moved almost to tears in the next moment—a real rollercoaster of emotions—and brilliantly delivered by this talented cast. 

Michael Hugo, Eliza Blair & Joanna Holden
Photos by Ian Hodgson
Michael Hugo, Eliza Blair & Joanna Holden Photos by Ian Hodgson
Patrick Dineen was compelling in all of his roles, as MC, Stromboli, and the Ringmaster, and the many musical numbers with the other members of the cast were a joy to experience. Niall Ransome came into his own in his portrayal of lazy Lampwick, who led Pinocchio astray; the funky Funland scenes were fabulous.

No spoilers, but look out for amazing puppetry in the underwater scenes; seriously scary, someone had done some careful research at The Deep methinks!

Wonderful theatricality of characters, innovative storytelling, and a clear message without ever preaching "Be Unbreakable You."

Pinocchio Suitable for 7+ continues at Hull Truck Theatre until 31st December 2023