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‘A riot of filth in words & gestures’: PINOCCHIO GETS WOOD – Guildford Fringe Theatre Company (Online review)

When the punchline of a joke is “clitoris allsorts”, you know that subtlety is not one of the strong points of the Guildford Fringe Company’s infamous adult panto.

Strictly 18-plus, Pinocchio Gets Wood is a riot of filth in words and gestures right from the first appearance of Dame Ciabatta Myflange (the tireless Daniel Page). No Widow Twankey, this Dame makes a living selling sex toys.

With dildos-a-plenty, blow-up dolls, whips, and puppets in bondage, this is Pinocchio as you have never seen it before. With groan-inducing puns, borrowed musical classics (ALW would surely have been proud to write ‘Take That Cock Out My Face’ for his Song and Dance singleton), and suggestive nudges at the Covid crisis.

A cast of four work exceptionally hard in this live broadcast: a panto of any kind without an audience can fall flat, but this works well after an initially shaky start, where both performers and viewers bed in to this “new normal” way of performance.

James Chalmers’ script is fast and furious, and stretches the four-piece cast to its hilarious limit. Pinocchio (Tamsin Lynes) with pink hair and a wooden appendage that grows when he lies, is a twisted take on the traditional principal boy, carved from a wooden dildo to get Juliet Myflange into sexual ecstasy.

Page’s dame moonlights as a schoolmistress with a list of pupil names to rival Rowan Atkinson’s The School Master (“Nibble! Leave Orifice alone!”), itself surely inspired by Joyce Grenfell’s “George … don’t do that”. In the class last night were pupils like Rim Me and Bollocks, leading to more amusing and quickfire wordplay.

In fact, the school’s headmaster, Scrotum, feels like he could be the upwardly mobile son of “the wrinkled retainer” of Rawlinson End, creation of Britain’s finest purveyor of eccentric eye-winking, Vivian Stanshall. So Pinocchio has a fine ancestry.

Musical fans will love the songs borrowed from Les Mis, Grease and more and given new lyrics by producers Nick Wyschna (also director) and Charlotte Bateup. It isn’t panto without a good singsong, and the finale had us bouncing around at home.

There is a hissable baddie, too: Strong Boner (Andrew Franklin, who has a touch of the night about him and gives Boner an insaitable belief in his own importance – or (im)potence). With Rachel Warrick-Clarke doing dual duty as Juliet and the dominatrix Blue Fairy, and a brief dispatch of the preachy Jiminy Cricket, this is fun, fun, fun all the way.

The cast of Pinocchio

Pinocchio Gets Wood has further live broadcasts from The Star Inn tonight and tomorrow. You can book tickets from £14 per device here.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to review Pinocchio Gets Wood: The Online Adult Panto.

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