Unicorn’s Artistic Director Justin Audibert directs Eve Leigh’s dazzling new adaptation of this much- loved family favourite, Pinocchio.
This classic story of Geppetto, a lonely carpenter who wishes that the wooden puppet he has carved and named Pinocchio, becomes a real boy.
With a touch of magic from the blue fairy, enter a world of gingerbread villages and snow-capped mountains in this captivating adventure of friendship and family as Pinocchio overcomes temptation and finds courage and love in the face of fear and danger.
The cast is Susan Harrison (Marmalade), Tom Kanji (Gepetto/Fratello), Sam Pay (Mommo), Peyvand Sadeghian (Pinocchio) and Eleanor Wyld (Polpetto/Blue Fairy/Duchess).
A family show for everyone 7+ Pinocchio is at The Unicorn Theatre Sunday 6 November to Saturday 31 December 2022.
You’re directing Pinocchio at The Unicorn Theatre, what can you tell us about this production?
The Unicorn’s Christmas production of Pinocchio has adventure, magic, mischief and redemption in it. It’s got a set so gorgeous you want to eat it, wonderful live accordion music, spectacular puppets and a singing Italian fountain. Everything you could possibly want for a proper festive story!
It’s such a well-known story, what was it about Eve Leigh’s adaptation that really appealed to you?
What is so brilliant about Eve’s take on the story is that she has the relationship between Gepetto and Pinocchio so truthfully. Gepetto is learning how to be a “good parent” just as much as Pinocchio is learning how to be a “good boy”.
It’s so wonderful human and so tender to watch. It is also a very very funny adaptation and it’s been a joy to lean into the comedy and surrealism that Eve has written inspired by Collodi’s original story.
What’s the biggest thrill for you about directing the Unicorn’s festive production?
There is no theatre in London with an audience as responsive, warm and raucous as we have down on Tooley Street. It’s a true privilege to be able to thrill, entertain and move them every year in what is often their one trip to experience the magic of live performance.
And what will be the biggest challenge for you in directing this Pinocchio?
Making Pinocchio’s nose grow! As I am sure it is in every production!!!
Tell us a little more about the cast?
The cast are all multi-talented; as well as acting, they are singing, puppeteering, and dancing. They work their collective socks off.
They are also an incredibly lovely bunch. I had worked with Eleanor, Sam and Tom Kanji before but this is my first time working with Susan and Peyvand. They are all very very funny and jump into trying any idea straight away but they have also formed a really tight ensemble and look out for each other.
Peyvand is a really experienced puppeteer and she brings that physical skill in transformation to the way she performs as Pinocchio on the journey from being a puppet to being a real human. Susan is a hilariously funny feline as Marmalade the Cat, our narrator and guide through the story. Tom brings such a tenderness to Gepetto as Pinocchio’s father and contrasts this with a sinister raffishness as Fratello the Toyseller who tries to lead Pinocchio astray.
Eleanor is all sticky fingers and pink frills as Pinocchio’s best friend Polpetta, then wryly funny as the wise cracking Blue Fairy and finally utterly terrifying as the mad Duchess. Sam keeps the whole thing moving as the Accordionist and Pinocchio’s conscience but then really lets rip as Mommo the school bully.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Pinocchio?
We have made a show that appeals to everyone from 7 to 107. It’s got fun, joy, and laughs a plenty all sprinkled with that little bit of fairy dust that everyone needs at this time of year.