Review: The Making of Pinocchio, Battersea Arts Centre

Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill’s The Making of Pinocchio makes for a fascinating and fearless take on the fairytale at Battersea Arts Centre

“There was, and is, and always will be…a man”

The Making of Pinocchio makes its UK stage premiere as part of LIFT 2022: Unexpected Perspectives, courtesy of LIFT, Battersea Arts Centre and Artsadmin. And through the eyes and lived experience of artists Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill, there’s a powerful and playful take on the familiar story which aligns with the love, transition and talking crickets that has accompanied their own journey.

Partners in both art and love, their relationship has been marked by change –  MacAskill’s gender transition, Cade’s embrace of their non-binary identity. And what better medium to tell this story in than the tale of a puppet who wants nothing more than to be a “real boy”. The result is full of heart and laughter, both artistically ingenious and occasionally self-indulgent, and over Pride weekend, a message of real love.

They employ a wide range of theatrical tools to great effect. With cinematographer Kirstin McMahon, they play brilliantly with perspective; with Collective Text’s captioning, they show a real understanding of the possibilities of their integration; and through their own sense of selves – and humour – they are able to simultaneously present and parody the tropes of trans theatre, Cade’s determination not to be bumped from focus particularly funny. 

There are sequences that sometimes linger, pushing at our patience in their relentlessness. At the same time though, one is inclined to forgive, not least in the imaginative ways in which our boundaries are being pushed. The erotic episodes here verge on the extraordinary – sex dungeons and donkeys like you’ve never seen before (or perhaps you have…) – experimental, yes but entirely inclusive in its mischievousness. Normal never looked so great.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Christa Holka
The Making of Pinocchio is booking at Battersea Arts Centre until 2nd July
The Making of Pinocchio: Digital Edition is also available via liftfestival.com from 29 June – 10 July

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