Review of “Pinocchio” by Carlo Colodi, a performance of the State Puppet Theater – Ruse

To know your true nature means to change


Valentina Viryanska


Staging team

Dramatization by Prof. Slavcho Malenov

Directed by Todor Valov

Music by Plamen Mirchev-Mirona

Scenography by Natalia Gocheva

Multimedia by Roxana Markova

Assistants: Hristina Petkova and Asen Nikolov Photographer Georgi Pasev Participants: Svetlina Stancheva, Iveta Marinova, Martin Pashov (Pinocchio), Dimitar Pishev and Martin Marinov


‘Pinocchio’ by C. Collodi, directed by Todor Valev, tells us about birth, growth, the path, change and death in an unusually exciting and magical way, immersing us in a complete enchantment of associative images. This is one of those performances that can speak to all people in the audience, regardless of their age. Only the difference in life experience and observations accumulated over the years can affect how everyone would perceive it. But this fairy tale has great depth, which is revealed to those who believe that Pinocchio is becoming a real boy.

The difference in this reading is the laying of history in a specific period – the beginning of the XX century. The time of black and white silent films and jazz music. In the first scene of the performance, we see five people in a movie theater sitting in their seats, waiting for the screening of the film to begin soon. But they seem to be part of this black-and-white mute world. Their faces are covered with white makeup, and they themselves talk to each other with gestures and facial expressions inherent in the characters that appear on the screen. A screen that opens like a door to another world, with more colors, the doorstep of which each of them crosses. Beyond is the fairytale world of Pinocchio, filled with vicissitudes, choices, ruins and sorrow, but also with love, joy and flying hope.

The performance follows the events of the main plot line, as Collodi set them in the original, with the difference that some fragments have been removed and additional lines have been inserted or rewritten. Despite these changes in the structure of the text, its meaning is not disturbed at all, because the main moments and elements of the tale are preserved: how Geppetto creates Pinocchio; how Pinocchio sells his ABC book to go and watch a puppet show; how he meets the Fox and the Cat, after which he “sows” the coins; how they rob him and hang him on a tree, but the Fairy with the blue hair saves him; how Pinocchio goes with his friend Candlewick to Pleasure Island, where he turns into a donkey, and in the end how Pinocchio finds his father Geppetto and transforms into a real boy.

The end of the show also distinguishes its frame – “Pinocchio” ends with the same scene with which it begins. Again, with our backs to us, sit the five characters who act out the same dialogue without words, but this time we sense who they really are and why they look so much like the faces on the screen. The five bystanders correspond to the characters in the tale: Geppetto’s pianist; the exemplary lady – the Fairy with blue hair; the annoying chatterbox – Pinocchio; the thief with the cigarette – the Fox and the gloomy sleeper – the Cat. Maybe with this decision for the same beginning and end, the director wants to provoke in us consideration? We are looking for a way to escape from our black-and-white world with shades of gray to immerse ourselves in the imaginary and colorful world of fantasy. Art is a means of escapism, and by touching its many forms and manifestations – in them, we recognize ourselves.

In “Pinocchio” we see how grace and trials constantly come to man, and how cruel the battle for his soul really is. We realize that man always has a choice and is always warned before making a certain one and then endures the consequences. We understand that the Spirit of the invisible guardian who protects him is constantly watching over man, but countless temptations and lies come to counteract this. The goal is to mislead and deceive man in order to enslave him and turn him into a worker of sin. A man is thrown away when he is no longer usable… But, the Creator has power over all of this and because of his immeasurable love for his most paramount creation, He saves him because of his mercy to him. When a person seeks and wants to change, then he is saved. Then he is whole. Then he knows his true nature.