Saturday, June 18, 2005

Le Avventure di Pinocchio

Last night we went to see The Old Trouts perform Carlo Collodi's Le Avventure di Pinocchio and it was dark and sad and violent and funny and gorgeous. (Damn that sanitising Disney!)

The set alone would have made this production of Pinocchio, but there was also booming percussion, eerie violin and operatic voices. Pinocchio took the form of several hand and head-mounted puppets of differing sizes in order to convey the proper perspective; marionettes and scenery cut-outs were used to convey wonders like a flight across changing landscapes, floating on an ocean of tears and dwelling in the belly of a whale. Now that I think about it, the uncompromising artificiality of its look - including the obvious play between people and puppets - was amongst the most satisfying elements for me. (And there's a lesson there related to seamless technologies versus 'beautiful seams'...)


The puppeteers took minor liberties with Collodi's story, but it remained a complex moral tale about becoming human. ("The wood out of which Pinocchio is carved is humanity itself.") Highlights include its political and social satire, such as Pinocchio's imprisonment for being poor and the mocking of the judicial system with a brilliant court for "preposterous demands" complete with gorilla judge and screeching monkeys. When asked what he had done to deserve becoming a real boy, Pinocchio asks what real boys do to deserve it - after all, they're just born that way. Also, and contrary to the Disney version, when Pinocchio meets the moralising cricket he immediately smashes him to death. Very nice. Other favourite scenes involve a mad knight, his ass and a fantastic/scientific machine that, instead of turning Pinocchio into a real boy, mistakenly turns him into an ass. And, of course, the constant theme of life as other people pulling our strings. Stunning. (Now if only I could see The Unlikely Birth of Istvan as well...)


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