Christopher William Hill
The Dukes Theatre
The Dukes Theatre

This year, I took my daughter and my 3-year-old granddaughter, Abiah, to The Dukes to see the Christmas production. This was Abiah’s first visit to a live show in a theatre and, despite an initial nervousness and hiding on her mother’s lap, she thoroughly enjoyed this excellent new adaptation by Christopher William Hill.

Geppetto, Russell Richardson, is discovered in his workshop where he makes wonderful puppets for the town; his unpleasant neighbours bring him a log of "magical" wood and sarcastically suggest that there is a puppet inside waiting to come out. Geppetto pushes them out—but, yes, he does find that there is a wonderful puppet inside the log: Pinocchio.

Pinocchio is a magical, curious and impetuous boy who wants to know everything and, when he escapes from Geppetto’s workshop, discovers that the world can be a very dangerous place.

When Pinocchio, played by Lucas Button, learns that Geppetto has been imprisoned, he tries to find the money to buy him out of prison. That’s when his adventures really start. Pinocchio soon learns that people want to hurt, steal from and take advantage of his innocence and curiosity. People are also frightened by this peculiar young man.

The gloriously over-the-top Ackerman and his puppet circus find Pinocchio in the woods and he is given the money to get Geppetto out of prison—and that’s when his problems really start. There is a bright spot when Lena, Geppetto’s lost daughter, appears and befriends Pinocchio. The money attracts the attention of the scheming old soldiers Otto and Kurtz (Ben Tolley and Josie Cerise) and their Madoffian Bank of Dreams which will earn so much interest.

This is an excellent, fast-moving and magical Christmas production with something for the entire family; it certainly entertained my small group aged 3 to 70. What a wonderful introduction for Abiah. It is a moral tale too. Do not lie, be nice and help people, also there is no need to be afraid of people who are different to you.

Reviewer: Denis W McGeary

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