Moonfish recast Pinocchio as ‘cool teen’
By Charlie Mcbride
ONE OF the highlights of next week’s Baboró is the return of Moonfish Theatre Company’s much-acclaimed Tromluí Phinocchio/ Pinocchio – a Nightmare.
First performed at last year’s Galway Theatre Festival, the production was named Best Irish Language Show of 2012 in The Irish Times and was also voted one of the Top 10 Theatre Productions of 2012 by Entertainment.ie
Tromluí Phinocchio is the dark and sometimes disturbing story of its hero’s journey through a dangerous adult world. In Moonfish’s version, Pinocchio is a young teenager; a wooden boy who feel like he does not belong. The story is told through a mixture of Irish and English while the cast create music, sound, and lighting effects live on-stage to evoke the magic of Pinocchio’s world and, at the same time, share how that magic is created.
The story of Pinocchio first appeared in a children’s novel by Italian author Carlo Collodi in 1883 and this original version, rather than the 1940 Disney movie, was the starting point of Moonfish’s new adaptation, as company co-founder and director Máiréad Ní Chróinín explains.
“Our father had an old translation that had been done from the original Italian into Irish by Padraic O’Buachalla,” she says. “It also had these beautiful Italian illustrations and we integrated a lot of them into the show in terms of what certain things look like. One of the main reasons we wanted to make the show is that the original story has this dark edge which is left out of a lot of versions.
“The character of Pinocchio, for us, seemed to be a lot more like a teenager rather than a small naughty boy. We wanted to do a show for teenagers and young adults and with that came the idea of Pinocchio being kinda cool and in modern dress, though depending on what scene it is there are different kinds of costumes.
“We wanted to do a bilingual version of the story and that was a big influence on how we ended up telling the story. Pinocchio speaks English because he is rebelling against his Irish-speaking father. We use surtitles too, to try and get the aesthetic of the book into the theatre show.
“The book was written episodically and each episode had these kind of Victorian headings so we use that idea for the beginning of each scene, so each scene is introduced in that kind of Brechtian-style card outlining what is going to happen. Then we use puppetry and lighting, and so on in different ways and stir them all into the pot.”
Sound and music are important dimensions in the show.
“Music is a big element. We have music and we have live sound effects,” Ní Chróinín affirms. “We have a whole table full of different utensils, quacking ducks, bottles of water and all sorts. The music is also a big part. The Cat and the Fox, they are larger than life characters and we decided that rather than just write dialogue for them that they would become like a cabaret act so they have their own song and they really play to the audience so there is quite a bit of that kind of music going on as well.”
Ní Chróinín also expresses her delight at how successful Tromluí Phinocchio has been for Moonfish;
“It was great to get the positive reaction we did when we did the show last year,” she said. “It’s been on a lot longer than we envisaged. We originally did it for Galway Theatre Festival last year then brought it up to the Dublin Fringe and had a great run there and then we took it to Smock Alley. This spring we took it on tour and now we’re back to Baboró so it’s all been great.”
Tromluí Phinocchio runs at An Taibhdhearc on Tuesday October 15 at 11 am and 7pm, and on Wednesday 16 at 10am and 12 noon. For tickets contact the Town Hall Theatre (091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie)