Angela Miguel’s gentle version of this familiar Italian story (no punitive burning of Pinocchio’s wooden feet) runs on Little Angel’s slick characteristic mix of different types of puppets and talented puppeteer/actors visible and often becoming non-puppet characters. This time there’s also a lot of very effective mask work.
Pinocchio is voiced by Lori Hopkins, one of the three puppeteers who manipulate him. She winces, weeps, whoops, chats, yawns and groans on behalf of this naughty, vulnerable, easily distracted school truant.
The other three cast members play all the other parts using an engaging range of puppets. Pinocchio, for example, meets gorgeous bleating goats, is chased by splendid angry cows, duped by the dastardly fox and cat, helped by the Blue Fairy and, eventually, turned into a very sad and drooping donkey - all body language deftly and convincingly managed by actors whose voice work is often stunning. Mandy Travis, in particular, can comfortably do men’s voices as well as women’s and moves with admirable fluidity.
Peter Flood’s atmospheric music uses cello, violin, bass clarinet and percussion on a sound track. The upbeat leitmotiv he gives to Pinocchio whenever the puppet walks on, in various moods, to the next adventure is a neat device.
Pinocchio is a witty, entrancing, very appealing piece of miniature theatre which meets all Little Angel’s well-established high standards.