This one-off and highly unusual contemporary dance adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s much loved story PINOCCHIO is not only a feast for the eyes but aspires to tackle questions about physical and spiritual transformation – a journey of a wooden puppet who changes into a donkey and ultimately into a boy made of flesh and blood who asks what it is to be human and to dream, to strive, to love. Maria Doulgeri delivered a tour-de-force performance as ‘Pinocchio’ and the playful and poignant set was her oyster!

Eight dancers did the acclaimed Jasmin Vardimon Company proud when they spun their magic on stage – a stage that partly resembled a world of theatrical workshops and an environment that not only takes hold of them but demands that they become this very environment! Some wonderful dance routines introduced the marionettes carved by puppet master Gepetto (David Llloyd) in his workshop, before he creates the famous marionette from a piece of wood. This was fantastically done using a canvas tent and shadow lighting. The journey for Pinocchio began shortly after when Gepetto sold his coat to present Pinocchio with an A-B-C book, which in turn the little marionette sold to pay his way into a marionette theatre – with near-tragic consequences.
During the next hour the audience – and Pinocchio – encountered a fox and a cat, figures at the Red Lobster Inn, a Talking Cricket and the nasty Assassins while Maria Doulgeri’s co-stars (Estéban Lecoq, Emma Farnell-Watson, Aoi Nakamura, Stefania Sotiropoulou, Uros Petronijevic and Alexandros Stauropoulos) doubled and tripled as the story’s various characters, sporting the most amazing and quirky costumes and seemingly merging with assembled furniture and other objects. Particularly inspired was the dinner scene in the Red Lobster Inn where two dancers lay on their back and let their painted feet do the talking and eating, while the battle between Pinocchio and his playmates was pure enchantment. If you wonder how the puppet’s nose grows when he tells porkies to the fairy… it was achieved via hands and more hands seemingly growing out of Pinocchio’s nose. There were many exciting segments during this production, though the ‘Land of the Toys’ was executed particularly magnificently as was the donkey transformation. Even the segment in which Pinocchio gets thrown into the sea and eaten by a giant whale, inside which is Gepetto, was cleverly thought out using massive sheets of plastic.

Once can only begin to assume just how physically demanding it is to perform a show that looks so playful and so effortless! But it’s not only the dancers who did a mighty impressive job but the behind-the-scenes team deserve praise as well, most notably the costume designs by Abigail Hammond and the set designs by Guy Bar-Amotz and Jasmin Vardimon.

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