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Pinocchio: No Strings Attached!

Pinocchio: No Strings Attached!


Above the Stag

Pinocchio: No Strings Attached!

Pinocchio: No Strings Attached!

Above The Stag

Reviewed – 22nd November 2019



“arguably the least subtle show to ever grace the stage, yet it is so fantastically brazen about it that you can’t help but be charmed by it”


Right, I’ll just come straight out and say it. This show has ruined Pinocchio for me. There. Happy, guys? My childhood has been well and truly shattered.

Why? Because Jon Bradfield & Martin Hooper’s Pinocchio: No Strings Attached! is not a screen-to-stage magical Disney story for the family. Instead it is a filthy, raunchy, hilarious and shockingly rambunctious romp which takes the phrase ‘adult pantomime’ to dizzying new heights. How? Well, let me just say that when Pinocchio lies in this show, it isn’t his nose that grows bigger… suffice to say I’ve never wished someone to be truthful more.

Just about every sex joke ever conceived (no pun intended) is crammed into this panto, which may as well have been called ‘Carry on Puppeteering’ as far as innuendo is concerned. It is arguably the least subtle show to ever grace the stage, yet it is so fantastically brazen about it that you can’t help but be charmed by it. Make no mistake, this is not a play for prudes – the humour is so blue it’s setting up fake fact-checking websites as we speak.

The basic story is more or less intact, but switched up for a more modern retelling aimed at the LGBTQ+ community and heavily Frankensteined to make it infinitely ruder and incredibly camp. It’s certainly great fun, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that Pinocchio: No Strings Attached is a play without heart – love and acceptance are very much the order of the day. Alongside Pinocchio (Jared Thompson) embarking on a journey to become a real boy, his main struggle here is coming out and accepting his own sexuality as he falls for Joe (Oli Dickson). However, the story is not strictly his and each character has their own love battle, bar the villainous Figaro (Christopher Lane), who as the town’s corrupt, bigoted mayor seeks to ruin things for everyone.

Despite all the low-brow ‘take me through the back passage’ jokes, the play is quite often refreshingly progressive in opening conversations about xenophobia, homophobia and people of colour struggling to find their identity in the LGBTQ+ world. There are also plenty of clever topical references thrown in at the delight of the audience, some of which are so current I can only assume they are written in the moment they appear in the news.

It is always important for a panto to be visually stimulating, and David Shields’ set design does not disappoint – it’s colourful and exciting without cluttering the stage; Jackie Orton’s costumes are similarly pleasing to the eye. The score (Jon Bradfield), whilst not the most innovative musically, does a great job of furthering the characters’ love stories in a succinct and enjoyable way, and the lyrics are an absolute riot.

The stand out performance is without a doubt Matthew Baldwin, in drag as Geppetta. He commands the stage with utter confidence and has the whole audience in his palm for the play’s entirety. His performance is relaxed, almost lackadaisical yet playful, and the timing of his rapier-sharp wit is the mark of a true virtuoso. It isn’t just Baldwin though, the whole cast are to be praised for the show’s slickness. The characters are memorable for the most part, the energy is never at risk of dropping and Andrew Beckett’s attentive direction has created a show that feels completely precise and polished.

If this year you fancy a deliciously crude panto that sticks to the winning formula and doesn’t pretend to be anything different, then Pinocchio: No Strings Attached is the one to see. Just don’t bring your kids.


Reviewed by Sebastian Porter

Photography by PGB Studios


Pinocchio: No Strings Attached!

Above The Stag until 11th January


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Title Of Show | ★★★★ | February 2019
Goodbye Norma Jeane | ★★ | March 2019
Romance Romance | ★★★★ | March 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | April 2019
Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story  | ★★★★ | May 2019
Happily Ever Poofter | ★★★★ | July 2019
Velvet | ★★★ | October 2019


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Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew

Leicester Square Theatre

The Taming Of The Shrew

Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 25th April 2019



“Anything can happen in this exuberant show”


Sh*t-faced Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew is a merry romp indeed. Every night one of the actors gets joyfully inebriated, and makes their way through the play as best they can, ably assisted by their fellow cast members and the audience. It’s delightful, bawdy, boozy and hilarious. A seventy minute adapted script is the basis of the show, but it’s more a framework that anything else. The sober actors try to keep things more or less on track, while going with the flow and having a lot of fun.

Tonight is was the turn of Petruchio to get sloshed. His drunkenness made the character endearing and charming, particularly when he announced that he’d love to marry Kate, but only on equal terms, and called out the play for being really sexist. This was a while after their wedding. Perhaps this is the best way to deal with this problematic play; just let everyone have fun with it. Bianca in particular had a lot more fun than usual – some of it very naughty indeed!

The cast were quick and amazingly adaptable, picking up on ways to play with and get the most fun out of the chaos produced by Petruchio not exactly sticking to the script. In fact, when he is deemed to have managed rather a lot of Shakespeare, he has to drink some more. There is cross dressing, a very large cod-piece, audience participation, a bare buttock or two, a slightly embarrassed horse and a party-like atmosphere to the whole thing.

You never know what will happen when Magnificent Bastard Productions stage a Sh*t-faced show. It’s different every night, a mixture of Shakespeare, clever improvisation and ridiculous shenanigans. It was entirely possible that Petruchio may have decided not to get married. He may even have run off with a different cast member. Anything can happen in this exuberant show.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Rah Petherbridge


Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew

Leicester Square Theatre until 1st June


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Murder, She Didn’t Write | ★★★ | February 2018
Sh*t-faced Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sh*t-faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet | ★★★★ | June 2018
Murder She Didn’t Write | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sh*t-faced Showtime: Oliver With a Twist! | ★★★ | September 2018
Stick Man | ★★★½ | October 2018
Sh!t-Faced Showtime: Oliver With A Twist | ★★ | March 2019


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