It’s often said that puppets can get away with just about anything. Think about Punch & Judy. Despite being very cruel and violent, the show is still a hit with audiences today. Think about the Tony-Award winning musical Avenue Q. Puppets sing about racism, pornography, then go off to have wild puppet sex – and that’s just the first act!
And then, there’s The Daisy Theatre by Canadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett.
Because over forty marionette characters call The Daisy Theatre home, each night is a different show. Unscripted, Burkett’s razor sharp wit is free to play and surprise in every performance.
At the top of the show, Burkett introduces us to Franz and Schnitzel. Franz is a dirty sex fiend, and Schnitzel is a sweet little fairy child. When he’s not berating Schnitzel, Franz finds time to riff on the NDP, and the political left. Poor Schnitzel – everything good and innocent in the world – only wants to grow wings and fly with the birds. Cue the audience melting into a goopy puddle of emotions.
Or we would if Miss. Lillian Lunkhead, Canada’s oldest and worst actress, weren’t so picky about how the audience greets her entrance – clap this way, gasp that way. The stage veteran does make up for it by giving one lucky audience member the opportunity to be her scene partner for Romeo & Juliet. Sure, she might be a little…mature for the role of Juliet, but dang if she doesn’t know how to command the stage and audience.
The audience later meets Edna Rural, everyone’s sweet elderly neighbor. Edna is from the small community of Turnips Corner, Alberta. Lord love a duck if the audience doesn’t fall in love with Edna Rural. Edna, a widow, starts one place with her humourous (mis)adventures, and before we know it, she’s somewhere else entirely in her story. That’s life, though, isn’t it? But start to finish, the audience is taken by Edna’s genuine goodheart.
About puppets getting away with just about anything, Burkett pushes that theory to the limit. Over the course of two hours, Burkett’s puppets indulge in some of the filthiest, most bizzaro humour ever to grace a Calgary stage. (Salty old entertainer Rosemary Focaccia has quite the mouth on her!). Proving the theory right, the audience eats it up, almost falling out of their seats laughing. And it’s not just the puppets who have lots to say. Burkett has a thing or two to say during the evening, especially about Canadian Theatre (Showbiz, what’s that?).
What’s simply fascinating about Burkett are his masterful articulations of movement and voice that bring these puppet characters to life. Even though we can see the puppets hanging off to the side, there’s so much spirit that we can almost imagine each of these wacky, endearing characters nervously pacing backstage, all in their own personal ways.
Hands down, The Daisy Theatre should not be missed. The incredible wealth of humour and heart that Burkett brings to the stage makes for an unforgettable experience at the theatre. No wonder The Daisy Theatre is an audience favourite.
The Daisy Theatre by Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes runs Oct 27 – Nov 15 at the Big Secret Theatre.
For more information about the show and how to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.artscommons.ca/WhatsOn/ShowDetails.aspx?show_id=66984640-5CF2-4919-975D-FBE780E7BC3C
For more about The Daisy Theatre: http://www.thedaisytheatre.com/