Strangeface & The Amazing Adventures of Pinnochio

Earlier this week I took Boy 1 to see a truly amazing and unique production at our local theatre, The Gulbenkian.  It was even more of a treat than usual as the only performance was an evening one so he really felt quite grown up as we said goodnight to The Man and Boy 2 and headed off, just us two…

Strangeface are a local Kent-based company who bring mask and puppet theatre to audiences locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Their aim is to make their work as accessible as possible, appealing across generations and travelling to venues from grand old theatres to tiny village halls.  It was really useful that Boy 1 was very familiar with the original (as opposed to the Disney) version of Pinnochio as he knew what to expect from the story and could keep up as this was definitely not (just) a kid’s production.  I laughed hard and often throughout; it had the clever knack of appealing to an adult sense of humour whilst being funny for the younger section of the audience, too.  But yes, it was very freaky.  Little man took a while to warm to the masks that each actor wore.  In fact, he asked to leave after the first two minutes; he was definitely uncomfortable with the aesthetics of the show.  He is more sensitive than average but I must confess that one or two of the masks had me slightly weirded out as well!  But he was soon gripped…

The performance itself was incredibly polished and technically faultless.  The atmosphere created was both intimate and edgy – I’ve no idea how they managed to do that.  What Boy 1 found so incredible at the end was the revelation that there were only 4 actors playing 12 parts!  The masks, though completely bizarre, allowed for such a variety of roles from a very small group of performers.  It must have been exhausting from the actors’ point of view.  Boy 1 also couldn’t quite believe how beautiful the two actresses looked once their masks were off!

We particularly appreciated how the artists invited the audience to Q&A afterwards and, even more exciting, to try the masks and puppets out.  My man was not too good at getting stuck in and wasn’t happy to try on a mask but he did wait patiently to get hands-on with the Cricket puppet instead which was my personal favourite.  If you ever get the chance to see a Strangeface production then don’t hesitate; you’ll be in for a treat.



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