The Amazing Adventures of Pinocchio review at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Brighton – ‘wooden’
The title of Brighton’s only professional pantomime may not be worth having at all costs. Director James Weisz and writer Patric Kearns turned in a brilliant Beauty and The Beast at the now defunct 88 London Road theatre last year. But their move to the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts feels problematic.
This Pinocchio is hobbled by a space much bigger than the apparent budget, and shrill and unpredictable radio mics. Above all, it hampers itself by insisting on being a pantomime rather than a stage play. Great panto is all about elasticity. A day into the run, this cast doesn’t seem at all comfortable with ad-libbing, and the pre-recorded soundtrack pulls the strings during the song and dance routines.
You don’t doubt the hard work and admirable intention. Weisz wants to restore inspiring community theatre to this site, where he learnt his trade as a boy at what was then the Gardner Arts Centre. Pinocchio features local children rotating in the title role, and young aerialists from Brighton’s Circus Project as the villainous Singora Circo’s Marionette Theatre. There’s talent here, and the children in the audience seem genuinely charmed to see their peers on a big stage.
Of the professionals, Carly Day’s Jiminy Cricket is notable for a fidgety, vaudevillian physicality. But energy quickly dissipates on an overly bare stage, where even the big song about the joy of toys is unimaginatively visualised. The result, sadly, is a rather wooden panto from a team usually adept at bringing family theatre to life.