The Greatest Liar in All the World

Familia de la Noche take the story of Pinocchio and turn it on its head, with the former puppet boy as the titular “greatest liar in the world.” After all, what did happen to Pinocchio after he became a real boy? Presumably he grew up and lived as a normal man, but most of the popular retellings tend to stop before that happens. This show characterises him as a world-weary liar and conman who, at long last, just wants to tell the truth. But make no mistake, this isn’t some kind of gritty reboot of the familiar old story. Our middle-aged Pinocchio still has all of his naive charm, just with a couple of decades of real-life melancholy layered on top.

There’s something of early Tim Burton here, what with sleazy sidekick Conrad Sharp’s overblown showmanship, and the unavoidably grotesque (yet still heartwarming) nature of the Pinocchio story.

The Greatest Liar... is both funny and moving, combining puppetry, storytelling, live music and physical theatre to illustrate Pinocchio’s story. This is an accomplished little company that brings skills from a pretty wide variety of performance fields and it shows. Their interplay is smooth and energetic and they play well off the crowd. Admittedly there is a mute whiteface clown (of which there are far too many at the Fringe at this point), but not only is she (Dott Cotton) wonderfully emotive, she has the unusual clown role of love-interest to the main character.

The show is framed as the Greatest Liar telling his “real” life story for the first time, accompanied by his troupe of traveling cabaret performer friends. They manage a nice balance between silliness and genuine emotion, building a sweetly moving story. This is in part due to the lead actor’s self-deprecating persona, as the clueless Pinocchio matures into the Greatest Liar.

There’s something of early Tim Burton here, what with sleazy sidekick Conrad Sharp’s overblown showmanship, and the unavoidably grotesque (yet still heartwarming) nature of the Pinocchio story. Almost certainly the only show at the Fringe where you’ll see a woman give birth to a live puppet.

Reviews by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

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Performances

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The Blurb

Familia de la Noche return with their five-star, darkly funny sequel to Pinocchio: a rollercoaster ride filled with song, puppetry, physical theatre and clowning. The Greatest Liar in All the World sends the audience careering through the real story behind his infamous origins. But be warned there’s a twist and tear in this raucous cautionary tale. ‘What it would be like to stroll through the inside of Tim Burton's and Terry Gilliam's minds’ (SuchSmallPortions.com). ‘Sparkling’ (Stage). ‘Flawless’ (ThreeWeeks). ‘Outstanding’ (TheGoodReview.co.uk). ‘Pure brilliance’ (EdinburghGuide.com).

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