Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Strange and Terrible True Tale of Pinocchio (The Wooden Boy) as Told by Frankenstein's Monster (The Wretched Creature) and it was at the Neo-Futurists. I didn't really know how Frankenstein and Pinocchio would connect, because they are very different stories. One is about murder and one is about telling the truth. Frankenstein is about death and love, but not really romantic love, but how a monster shows his feelings. He shows his feelings by doing terrible things which are so sad I don't know if you want to hear them. The stories connected in sort of a weird way. And it is like The Monster telling a story, but not really being in the story of Pinocchio. They both have dramatic structure; they both have stuff that wouldn't really happen in real life. They both have poignant parts to the story. Both The Monster and Pinocchio are both false creations. I mean like nobody in the world could make a live puppet. The Monster is like made out of dead bodies, and you can't make dead body parts come to life again. I got the word "false creation" from Macbeth, a great Shakespeare play: "A dagger of the mind, a false creation." And a false creation means something that is untrue but seems true. I think Greg Allen, the director, does a good job of making these stories connect in a clear and understandable way.
So there was this character named Drummer (Thomas Kelly) and he wanted to get Pinocchio to be a drum when he was a donkey. So he would stretch out his skin over a pot or something and then he could use his bones for drumsticks. So, when Drummer is saying, "Oh we'll get to know each other. What is your favorite color? Oh and I bought you this beautiful leash and it has this beautiful rock on it. Let's look at the water. And let's put the rock in here" the rock pulls Pinocchio into the water and he comes back up a puppet. I thought Drummer was kind of animal cruelty-ish. He's not scary; he's mean and funny and a little stupid. So when Pinocchio came to come see the Milkmaid/Blue Fairy/Tien Doman and he saw Lampwick (Thomas Kelly) laying as on the ground and he's a donkey. And then these guys take Lampwick away and when they are off stage you hear "Oh! A dead donkey for my drum!"says Drummer. It is cool and weird because Lampwick is also the person who played Drummer so it is kind of weird to be saying "Yay! My other character is dead" and he's going to make himself into a drum.
I think in Pinocchio's tale, the sad one (the actual book) and the happy one (the Disney version), they should get Pinocchio to be homeschooled. He's told "behave, go to school, don't be different than all the other boys in the world." Him having to go to school, not be different, and not be his own self that he wants to be makes him be kind of a jerk. In the play, Pinocchio (Robert Fenton) treats people like they are idiots and like he is the smartest person in the world. He actually isn't the smartest person in the world because the Fox (Chris Rickett) and Cat (Tien Doman) trick him into thinking that there is this place where he can "grow money, " but money doesn't grow on trees. He just wants more of what he has; he is never satisfied with what he has. It is really inappropriate for kids to swear. That is really a grown up thing to do. You can say "oh my gosh" or "geez louise," but you can't say "oh my god" or anything really offensive. When I am angry I say "errrrrh." And Pinocchio swears a lot, so he is a very inappropriate child. So when he is swearing at the Fox and the Cat, Geppetto (Dan Kerr-Hobert) says "That is very inappropriate language for a little boy" because it is. Some people kind of think it is kind of funny, but I don't because I would never swear, at least not as big as he does.
Guy Massey is The Monster. The first impression that you got was that this was going to be a terrifying story that everybody dies in. It is the feeling of terror--well something that is not as bad as that but still cool. You are seeing him roaring, and there is big thunder and lighting and scary sounds. When you actually get into the story, you find out that it isn't as terrifying as in the beginning. The Monster also swears a lot. I think because he is kind of lonely, is one reason. And he killed his own father. And I suspect that wasn't very fun. I thought his makeup wasn't as much like the makeup in the movie--which I haven't seen but I've seen lots of pictures. This was more realistic, more like a real human, and not so cheesy. I think of The Monster as lots of scary body parts sewn together and come to life with different colored eyeballs. In the movie, he looks a little too cheesy to think that he is really weird or scary or real.
To be honest, I think there really isn't a main character. There are two main characters which are The Monster and Pinocchio. Even though they are both kind of jerks, you feel kind of sorry for them. You feel sorry for Pinocchio because he is not treated equally as other children. I feel sorry for The Monster because he feels lonely and sad. That makes the audience not be bad persons; it just makes us sympathize. If there is like somebody that is kind of mean to you and then they get hurt, you are going to feel sorry for them. The show showed me what it is really like to sympathize with someone who is almost a complete jerk. The Monster is also big and mean, but I kind of feel like The Monster is kind of actually a little bit nicer than Pinocchio even though he killed lots of people. They both kind of have an excuse for their badness. Pinocchio is not treated very well, and The Monster is treated like he is a slave. They both are not treated equally to other people. The Blue Fairy and Geppetto are people that love Pinocchio, but nobody really loves the Monster because everybody just screams and runs away when they should actually be thinking about his feelings. Pinocchio does lots and lots of cruel things to people--like when the Blue Fairy dies and he swears at somebody in the audience for doing what he asked them to do and like killing beautiful creatures like crickets. But The Monster only does one cruel thing at the end of the play which I am not going to give away. And if you don't get to see the play, just call me up.
The puppets I thought were really cool. I really liked the shadow puppets because they really had a cool meaning to them: they would show things that people couldn't really do onstage. The Punch and Judy was kind of like a real puppet show, only a little more violent; like they killed off a little girl. And that was really disturbing. The puppet theater is also a puppet. There is a guy in the puppet--kind of like Big Bird. I have never seen an actual Punch and Judy show. I have seen dancing puppet animals in the Puppet Bike. I saw a Christmas Bear puppet show in New York in the winter. But I have never seen an actual Punch and Judy show, so I didn't know what it would be like.
There was the ghost of the talking Cricket which was made out of ice, and it was very fantastic, and how they got that ice not to melt. So Pinocchio bit the Cricket's head off and that is how he actually bit off his head--because he was made out if ice! It was a little funny--Pinocchio biting the Cricket's head off and cutting his head off, and smashing him, and Geppetto eating him. It was funny because it was so absurd and crazy, not because a boy smashing a great part of nature is actually funny.
People who would like this show are people that like donkeys, puppets, and violence. It makes you ask yourself questions that you never asked yourself before. What is it like to have done something bad but not to think it is a bad thing? Does The Monster actually love Pinocchio? Can The Monster tell the future? Grownups should come see this show because it is sad, crazy, and fuh-larious.
Photos: Joe Mazza