In The Daisy Theatre’s latest return to Toronto, master puppeteer Ronnie Burkett continues to break a variety of theatrical conventions in the best way possible. Reviving the stage with many of his naughty classics, Toronto audiences are being summoned to hilarity with a series of new performances and acts from the master marionettist himself.
For those who have never been to Burkett's marionette masterpiece, the anticipation is gripping but well rewarded with two hours of consistent comedy. Whereas the humour is merely an added bonus, the real appreciation is attributed to the artful creation and thorough direction of the handcrafted puppets. Ranging from Snitzel to Turnip Corners’ finest, the characters are brought to life with an often homoerotic twist that will leave you laughing for hours after the final curtain has been drawn.
Whereas direct audience involvement often becomes the breaking point for many productions, Burkett uses this to his advantage. Throughout the performance, a brief selection of audience members are brought onstage to interact directly with the characters and become immersed in the flow of action. A great deal of the production’s success stems from this engagement as we view humans coming into direct contact with strange, artificial representations. The contestation between reality and theatricality results in reflective tension, laughter and pure entertainment. Within the intimate cabaret setting, you cannot help but secretly wish to be one of the “unlucky few.”
The production, in its entirety, is utterly metatheatrical. The diverse cast of characters range in race, ethnicity and background, all owning up to a previous history of minor and extreme backgrounds. Their costumes exude an eccentric drab. The garments are representative of elemental and thematic constructions, an intersection between commentary, critique and predominantly difficult histories. The faces are carefully crafted among a mix of stern, surprised and overtly exaggerated expressions, all owning up to the dramatic emphasis of their unrealistic state. Throw in some spotlight mixed with Burkett’s wild wit and you have a truly Canadian rendezvous of metatheatrical marvel right before your eyes.
To miss out on The Daisy Theatre is to be as stiff as the lifeless marionette’s eager for their spotlight. The magic is in the movement, the comedy is in the critique and the tickets should be in your hands.
The Daisy Theatre is presented by the Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes and runs to April 5th in the Factory Theatre’s Studio. For tickets, please call the box office at 416.504.9971 or purchase online by visiting the following link: ow.ly/KBfsT.