Preview: Stuff and Nonsense: Pinocchio, MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton

Preview: Stuff and Nonsense: Pinocchio, MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton

A new adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s classic story from Stuff and Nonsense, Pinocchio, visits MAST from Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15 February ,and has all the elements of the story we all love and much more besides, as it unpicks the broader themes of this timeless story.

The story of the wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy, Pinocchio has entertained children for generations with families everywhere treasuring memories of sharing the story.

“We invite parents to invest their imaginations and enjoy this journey with their children,” says Niki McCretton, Artistic Director of Stuff & Nonsense.

“We want as wide an audience as possible to come and see this show, regardless of whether they’re regular theatre-goers. We’ve all heard of Pinocchio, so there’s the familiarity of the story and we invite Southampton families to MAST to encounter something that might not be quite what they think they’re expecting.”

Stuff & Nonsense started work on what is their biggest production to date, long before the first lockdown in 2020, working with children to plot a course through the timeless story, following where the fascinations and playfulness of young people took them.

“I’ve worked, studied and researched children’s creative practice for years and in that time I’ve learned to follow the smoke – to see where the play takes you,” Niki explains. “We always work with children in devising our shows and they have the most amazing ideas, so although you can guide the play, by getting involved and joining in you are open to so much more.”

At its core, Pinocchio is the story of a father and son. Pinocchio is always learning, trying to find ways through tricky situations, without many people to guide him. It’s a story of survival in a surreal world and this extraordinary new adaptation is another unique and playful take on the classic story that we think we know.

Highly physical, it involves the Stuff & Nonsense staples of puppetry and live music, as three actors representing father, son and grandfather find themselves in a grand, old, abandoned house. The show centres around a large dining table, the heart of family life, that becomes the performers’ playground crammed with visual surprises, hidden drawers and compartments, providing unexpected opportunities for puppets to pop out and the actors to jump, flip and spin on and over.

“Our Pinocchio puppet is more like a superhero because he’s on really long rods, so he can out-leap all these incredibly physical actors,” adds Niki.

“It’s one of the lesser known aspects of the Pinocchio story that when he becomes a real boy he actually sees his puppet self on the chair and thinks how ridiculous it looks, so we’ve incorporated that element of the story into our production. We have the grandfather, the father and the son with Pinocchio as the middle one, so the father talks about himself being made of wood when he was a little boy.”

Stuff & Nonsense has assembled an impressive team to support Niki, including three world-class performers (all musical and skilled in physical comedy, acrobatics and puppetry), designer Edwina Bridgeman (Travelling Light), puppet and prop designer Holly Miller, composer Dom Coyote (Kneehigh) and mentor Paul Hunter (Told By An Idiot).

“This is theatre for everyone, not just for young people or pre-schoolers, or teens, but for everyone – from little ones to grandparents!”

Tickets for Pinocchio (13 – 15 February 2024) are on sale at or 02380 711811.

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