Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, dramatized by Linda Marshall Griffiths

Contact Us

Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 15 December 2012
Forget all recollections of the Walt Disney cartoon, with its sentimental songs and attractive little boy; this was a full-on rite of passage drama, in which Pinocchio (Ellis Hollins) is transformed from a self-important, rather impulsive little boy into a human being, with a unique insight into the value of friendship and concern.
The transformative process was not a pleasant one: as he went on his picaresque progress, away from his reformed alcoholic father Geppetto (Steve Evets), Pinocchio encountered a variety of low-life characters, including a malignant cricket, another puppeteer, a hawker and an auctioneer.  Through an ingenious use of doubling, even trebling of roles, director Nadia Molinari used her cast (including Lee Ingleby, William Ash, Jonathan Keeble and Tom Rolinson) to advantage; this strategy suggested that each character Pinocchio encountered was different, yet somehow similar, in the sense that they helped the little puppet to discover something about himself and how he should behave.  The cast thoroughly enjoyed themselves in their various roles; I have not heard lines delivered with such relish for a long time in any kind of radio drama.
The drama was rendered even more unsettling through Steve Brooke's sound-design and Olly Fox's unearthly music, both of which conjured up an environment that could only be described as hellish.  The fact that Pinocchio managed to negotiate it - despite all the indignities heaped upon him (including being hanged and drowned) - was testament to his resilience.  It was this quality, above all, that helped him to acquire a heart.
Pinocchio might be a popular story, but it is also a morality-tale, offering sound advice as to how people (including adults, as well as children) need to behave.  This production admirably communicated the story's didactic purpose, as well as being extremely entertaining.