REVIEW: Pinocchio, The Barn Theatre, Southwick

H Reeves, centre, as Signor Verruca, with Ian Bishop as Fungus and Maggot the cat

H Reeves, centre, as Signor Verruca, with Ian Bishop as Fungus and Maggot the cat

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Southwick Players have more than one star to wish upon as they put on their biennial family pantomime this week.

Pinocchio at The Barn Theatre in Southwick is a high energy, song and dance extravaganza with more than one star performance.

It opens with the live band playing an overture including some of the well-known Disney songs associated with the story but continues with a storyline that bears little resemblance to the cartoon classic.

Many familiar elements are woven into the Players’ adaptation, however, like the fox and the cat, Pinocchio turning into a donkey and being inside a whale, but these come with a clear ‘stranger danger’ message at the forefront, rather than the expected warning against telling lies.

One thing it definitely achieves is bringing a large cast to the stage, including some up-and-coming young talent, and with it comes all you would expect from a panto – oh yes, there is!

Two of the biggest performances come from Tony Bright as Mama Scrumpi, the pantomime dame, and H Reeves as Signor Verruca, the ‘baddie’.

Amy Bowyer also gives a stand-out performance as Baby Dimples, giving it her all at all times, including some enthusiastic dance routines. You just cannot help smiling along with her beaming face.

Louise Yeo as Grazia and Tobias Clay as Jimmy Crankit work well together, as do Ian Bishop as Fungus the fox and Sarah Papouis as Maggot the cat, especially as Sarah has stepped into the role with only a few days’ notice.

With Ron Common as Gepetto and Sabina Silver as Pinocchio, the puppetry is not very convincing but Sabina’s wooden moves when she is freed from the strings are spot on.

There was a reasonable level of audience participation last night, though some of the jokes were a bit lame and were missed by most in the crowd.

H Reeves was best at drawing the audience in and, like Tony Bright, does not even need to speak to show his genius – it is all about the facial expressions.

Technically, there are some excellent elements, like the lift crank and the working lift light, which really give the impression that the lift could be moving.

Pinocchio runs until Saturday, at 7.30pm daily with a 2pm Saturday matinée. Tickets are priced £10 to £12. Contact the box office on 01273 597094 to book.

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