Showing as part of Mimetic Festival 2014 (17 – 29 November 2014)
At times during Familia De La Noche’s re-imagining of Pinocchio you wonder if there can be any tricks left un-deployed by this multi-talented motley crew. Well as it turns out they leave one ace up their sleeve and in the final moments what had hitherto been a highly raucous and entertaining series of set-pieces reveals itself to be something that has every right to consider itself to be theatre. It is an unexpected moment of stillness that is ridden with pathos which breaks through the frenzy and displays the potent emotional heart that had beaten below its glossy surface all along.
The Greatest Liar In All The World manages to cram in acting, clowning, physical theatre, mime, musicianship, puppetry – shadow and actual, into sixty minutes. Amongst all of this they tell two stories; of the last show by the world’s greatest liar and, as a story-within-a-story, his own origins tale (that is perhaps best known by his more familiar name – Pinocchio).
It is a heady mix and one can sense the impetuousness of youth in their desire to cram all their undoubted skills into a single production. There is a resulting unevenness in tone and quality, with some parts inevitably working more strongly than others. The first half is the stronger of the two and as Pinocchio loses sight of his objectives when on Booby Island so, unfortunately, does the production. However the frenetic pace means this is soon followed by a wonderful display of shadow puppetry, that tells of our hero’s journey across the world in search of his love and saviour; the blue-haired girl.
It is a mark of the production that it often works best when making use of the specialist skills of its cast and its weaknesses are in tying it together with more traditional theatre ideas. This is further evidenced by the excellent puppetry on display. In Pinocchio they have built a simple but powerfully effective wooden boy. His face, whilst static, is able to convey a huge range of emotions and that is credit to both his operators and to the cast that perform with him.
It is not easy to act against a block of wood but when we see the puppet’s interact with the blue-haired mime we can believe, if only for a moment, in the power of theatre to transform the unreal into the real before our eyes; for a wooden boy with a spoon for a leg to be something that can truly exist.