Review Round Up: Pinocchio, National Theatre

John Tiffany directs this new production of Pinocchio, which features the score and songs from the beloved Walt Disney film. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews here: 


On a quest to be truly alive, Pinocchio leaves Geppetto’s workshop with Jiminy Cricket in tow. Their electrifying adventure takes them from alpine forests to Pleasure Island to the bottom of the ocean.

The Guardian: **** “Tiffany as director and Bob Crowley as designer also know how to combine simplicity and spectacle.”

The Metro: *** “Yet despite fleshing out the father-son story between Geppetto and Pinocchio, and bumping up the significance of the Blue Fairy, Kelly can’t find enough emotional momentum to make the story take flight.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “It is darkly beautiful and disturbing, a morality tale rather than a singalong adventure. But it isn’t, for all the creators’ best efforts, quite magical enough.”

The Stage: *** “But the production as a whole suffers from a lack of momentum. The first half in particular lacks a sense of urgency and the blend of the creepy and the sweet never quite resolves itself.”

Variety: ” the show largely skips between set-pieces, and it trades the film’s abundance of character for theatrical spectacle.”

The Independent: **** “The production by John Tiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) is fairly lavish but it is beautifully proportioned, so that we’re always reminded that, at the heart of the piece, there’s a simple fervent story about a wooden puppet’s quest to be a real boy and to find the answer to the riddle of what it is that unites people and makes them human.”

Time Out: **** “It feels considerably less heartwarming than the film: partly because it’s that much darker and colder, partly because its adult star isn’t as sweetly boyish as the film’s Pinocchio – muscled and amoral, at the beginning he feels literally inhuman in a way his animated counterpart never does.”

Rewrite This Story: **** “This is a magical, heart-warming production which uses a variety of theatrical devices in the purest and most masterful way.”

The Telegraph: *** “often Kelly’s script, focused on unpacking its father-son issues, ambles (even when assisted by an enjoyably arch turn from David Langham as the predatory Fox) when it should boyishly skip and leap.”

The FT: *** “Kelly’s script and Tiffany’s staging are unsettlingly shadowy, but not excessively so (although the Blue Fairy’s final declaration — that what makes humans human is pain — may be pushing it a bit), and the visual aspect always counteracts this tendency.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Aside from some shrewd quips about the dangers of gluten, Dennis Kelly keeps the story rooted in a timeless, fairy-tale abstraction.”

West End Whingers: ” the brief appearance of the whale offers some “Ooo look mummy” possibilities and the sculpting of Pinocchio is smartly handled. We were also drawn to the effective illusions of Jamie Harrison; we never tired of the floating flame that represents the Blue Fairy, that’s when she’s not represented by Annette McLaughlin who spends much of the show pulling her cloak’s hood on and off her head.”

Broadway World: *** “Ultimately, it’s more impressive as awe-inspiring – and somewhat disturbing – stage spectacle than as fully-fledged musical drama.”

A Younger Theatre: “This is one of the classic coming of age tales about childhood, pain and love, known to many as a Disney animation, but boldly and reworked at The National with originality and overflowing charm.”

City Am: **** “This is a brilliantly executed production, no question. It’s just a brilliantly executed horror story.”

Exeunt Magazine: “trying so hard to impress, but fails to make a lasting impression.”

London *** “Tiffany’s production is full of magical moments, from a flickering flame floating around the auditorium, to Stephen Hoggett’s swirling choreography reminiscent of what we saw in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and, more recently, Road at the Royal Court.”

British Theatre Guide: “The combination of the puppetry, music, thrills, spills and strong performances all round should ensure that this new version of Pinocchio sells out the current run and there must be a strong possibility that it will return to the repertoire in years to come.”

British ***  “Full marks to the National for having a jolly good go with this attempt; it may yet be made to work as well as the show clearly intends to.  But more work it will need before that happens.”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “Despite, Pinocchio’s visual wonders, director John Tiffany could do with speeding things up, especially in the second half which threatens to be a repeat of the first.”

Evening Standard: ** “Yet spectacle prevails over heart and soul. It’s as if the show’s formidable technical demands have compromised everything else. The second half is more dramatic, but the tone remains uncertain, and for a piece ostensibly aimed at children it’s oddly cold, remote and joyless.”

London Box Office: *** “It may well be the perfect Christmas treat for serious minded kids, but on the whole I suggest you take your younger family and friends to a good pantomime instead – they’ll have a lot more fun.”

London Theatre1: *** “I really wanted to love Pinocchio as much as I love the Disney film but the tone of the piece was all over the place (did it really need fart jokes?) and even though I had an excellent seat in row K, it all felt a little distant and detached lacking the magic touch.”

The Upcoming: *** “Even with Tiffany’s tricks and the wondrous puppetry, Pinocchio ends up being a low-level charmer rather than a grin-inducing eye-popper.”

Pinocchio continues to play at the National Theatre until the 7th April 2018. For more information and to book tickets visit:


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