Ronnie Burkett is like an anthology of compiled stories that were never allowed to be published. Just when you think his marionettes could not possibly say a thing more shocking or controversial than what they’ve previously said, they will do something even more perverse, throwing the audience, once again, into riotous laughter. Between Ronnie Burkett’s slew of characters and character voices, and the music and lyrics by John Alcorn, this show is the hilarious medicine you need after a long day.
While shock value is not a new component to Ronnie Burkett’s shows, The Daisy Theatre is new in its versatile structure. While we know Ronnie Burkett has enough stories and characters to keep a show running for hours on end, for The Daisy Theatre, he doesn’t exactly know which puppets he will bring on stage each night. The show you see may not necessarily be the same show I saw, but I can promise you one thing: the laughter will prevail.
Whether it be an out-and-gay Jim Bunny, a German opera singer, or a theatre-running cow, wearing “Jimmy Moos”, each outrageous character has a story to tell that has an underlying depth to it. From Schnitzel trying to get his fairy wings, to Jolie Jolie struggling with her encroaching age, to Edna dealing with life after her late husband has passed, there is an honesty to each character that resonates with the audience.
And if the characters’ stories are not enough to resonate with you, there is some good old audience interaction, as well. You may get asked to remove your shirt, operate the marionette of a piano-playing ghost, have a provocative puppet sit on your face, or crank up the band of marionettes. Each moment of audience interaction is completely engaging and unpredictable.
The Daisy Theatre is inherently metatheatrical and underneath the absurd characters, the piercing satire and the double entendres, there is an apparent struggle to be an artist – to be understood and appreciated, especially if you are different and stray away from the mainstream.
To Burkett’s marionettes, we are just people sitting in the dark, judging them, and it’s true, we are. With every new idea and every new show, artists take a leap of faith. Like Schnitzel stepping over the edge, artists put their work out in the open and they wait for audience reception. It’s all a test in the theatrical realm. And Ronnie, in case you are wondering, you pass with flying colours.
The Daisy Theatre is running at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street) until February 23. Tickets: $30. For tickets or more information call 416.504.9971, or visit factorytheatre.ca.
Photo credit: Alejandro Santiago