Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 22 November 2014

The Greatest Liar in All the World

The Vaults ⋄ 18th-22nd November 2014

Once there was a wooden boy.

Laura Seymour

A woman is in love with a block of wood, a pneumatic organ growls; Pinocchio crawls, with spindly wooden arms from his mother’s skirts. The older Pinocchio (Conrad Sharp) tells us the true story of his life in an  effervescent, inventive stone soup of puppetry, music, clowning, dance, and magic. No hint of the Disney film, The Greatest Liar in All the World features several points of contact with the darker original Italian text (where, for example, Pinocchio is hung until dead halfway through). A ripe set of literary motifs blurs into a motivation to move and change static folkloric patterns with the turn of a leg or the slice of a knife.

Pinocchio’s story is one of self-sabotage. His blue-haired, silent guardian angel (Dott Cotton) comes to him whenever he is in trouble. Eventually wise to this, and desperately in love with her, he tries his hardest to get into trouble so she will come. An authentic counterpoint to her mesmerisingly gentle physicality, Pinocchio fluffs pleadingly through his autobiography until his plan ends in heart-wrenching anagnoresis.

The Greatest Liar in All the World involves a cornucopia of stage enchantment; the way that the frustrations of theatre trickery are thematised in this play strengthens rather than dispels their illusions. Pinocchio tries to access something absolute and genuine by shooting himself and is greeted instead with a flurry of red ribbons, a banana-gun, some red gloves, and a hat filled with red confetti, manipulated with aplomb by his all-too-helpful castmates – all of whom generate a messy and hilarious domino effect of stage deaths whirling around his still-living body, none of which provide him with the satisfaction of something finally real.

Familia de la Noche are adept at making the inner workings of their production, all ribbons and gulping melodica, strange and mysterious the more visible they are. When, in the midst of his ultimate crisis, Pinocchio waits for the blue-haired angel to save him, the actor playing her is still shuffling on the edges dressed in a bowler hat, suit, and full clown makeup. It seemed she would never have enough time to run offstage and don her blue wig and dress to take on the role of angel and save him when he most needed her. The thought that, with vain telepathy, arose in my mind was not (to the angel) ‘please, save him’ but (to then actor) ‘please, change costume’. Throughout The Greatest Liar in All the World, stagy effects and material things, from handkerchiefs to blue confetti, are some of the most emotively-charged objects In All The World.


Laura Seymour

Laura Seymour is writing a PhD thesis on cognitive theory and Shakespeare in performance. Her poems have appeared in several journals such as 'Iota', 'Envoi', 'Ambit', and 'Magma'. Her book 'The Shark Cage' won the 2013 Cinnamon Press debut collection prize and is forthcoming in 2015.

The Greatest Liar in All the World Show Info

Produced by Familia de la Noche

Cast includes Becca Cox, Dott Cotton, Conrad Sharp, Alfie Boyd, Jake Stevens




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