Review: The Making of Pinocchio at Brisbane Powerhouse
By Kate Lockyer
This year, Brisbane Festival invited audiences to step into a world of transformation. As we gazed at the performers, entranced, the performers gazed right back at us in a challenge to examine our own approach to the world.
Direct eye contact with performers may be unconventional, but in productions like The Making of Pinocchio and Salamander, where the themes are so jarringly personal, it felt right that we all shared this moment of mutual acknowledgement.
Artists and lovers Rosana Cade and Ivor MacAskill have been creating and recreating The Making of Pinocchio since 2018, alongside and in response to Ivor’s gender transition. Cleverly playing on the story’s theme of Pinocchio ‘becoming a real boy’ in representing a transgender journey, Cade and MacAskill embraced liminality and contradiction as an opportunity for freedom and possibility.
Set in a fictional film studio, Cade and MacAskill pivot between acting as themselves, workshopping and discussing the show and what it means to them, and acting in a radically new and beautiful retelling of Pinocchio.
In the most memorable part of the show, Pinocchio the puppet prepares to perform a show within the show, the lights go up in the audience, and Cade, who is themself non-binary, addresses us directly.
Maybe you are here because you are a puppet, they say. Or maybe you are here because you think you might be a puppet. Or maybe you are just reaaally supportive of puppets… (cue audience laughs). Or you want to be seen to be supportive of puppets (even more laughs). Whatever the reason, Cade encourages us to open our minds to possibility for Pinocchio’s show.
There is a breathtaking vulnerability as a completely nude Pinocchio/Ivor in his newfound low voice duets with a high-pitched recording, from before he transitioned, of himself singing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’.
Other topics are treated with endearing levity. As Cade, acting as the puppeteer demonstrates how they can make Pinocchio (MacAskill) dance, they get sidetracked talking about their own feelings about the project. As Cade confesses to feeling that they are neglecting MacAskill’s struggles because of the great creative potential they offer, they stop watching Pinocchio and he begins to do his own comic dance, escaping from the strings.
At the end of the show, Cade and MacAskill discard their costumes and lay together. Cade describes a myriad of different ways they might change the show, standing in for the endless possibilities their relationship brings them – they don’t have to be just one thing.
Tensions caused by the new identities each of them forms as they explore gender and sexuality are portrayed with candid humour and gentleness – an unforgettable production.