on December 6, 2016 by test_editor in Coming Events, WEB-EXTRA content, Comments Off on Web-extra (December 8, 2016): Review of GCTC’s “The Daisy Theatre”; Pull Some Strings To See It.

Web-extra (December 8, 2016): Review of GCTC’s “The Daisy Theatre”; Pull Some Strings To See It.

Web-extra (December 8, 2016): Review of GCTC’s “The Daisy Theatre”;
Pull Some Strings To See It.

By Allyson Domanski, Newswest Theatre Reviewer.

They may be puppets but this ain’t The Muppets. Even brash Miss Piggy would blush watching The Daisy Theatre. That or bust a gut.

If you love it spicy (as the rip snorting audience clearly did by ending with a standing O on opening night), Ronnie Burkett can dish it out. Bawdy, brilliant, naughty but nice, his puppet show is unadulterated adults-only fun. He’s been at this for three decades, captivated by puppetry for five, giving life through monologues and musical numbers to an oddball array of endearing old-timers, saucy divas and Las Vegas has-beens.

Before the show opens, Burkett tells us that after years of performing heavies about the holocaust, apocalypse and AIDS, it was time to lighten the (expletive) up. The Daisy Theatre is the result. Everything from cabaret to vaudeville to burlesque, it’s nothing but enjoyably inappropriate entertainment.

They say Colonel Parker made Elvis and Rene Angelil made Celine Dion but Ronnie Burkett went one better: he hand-built his stars. Skilfully crafted and resplendently costumed with caricature faces and articulated joints, Burkett’s marionettes are vivid eccentrics. He makes each performance unique by choosing from amongst his cast of forty distinct characters so you never know who you’re going to meet, what skit you’re going to get. The show’s improvisation ensures that Burkett is its brightest star.

He’s the master pulling all the strings, tugging even those to your heart. He coaxes empathy so convincingly that it will have you attributing the qualities of a sentient being to a two-foot tall, hollow figurine with a daisy sticking out of its noggin named Schnitzel. My otherwise phlegmatic husband, who will go as far as talking to the dog but never to the tomato plants, could be heard calling out, ‘Go Schnitzel ‘, like so many others caught up in the wonder of a person-like fairy who needed no wings, just strings, to manipulate our emotions.

The same thing happened when the timeworn vaudeville ventriloquist duo of Meyer Lemon and his dummy Woody Linden came out. Meyer, slumped over snoozing, is so past his prime that his fingers can’t wiggle anymore to make Woody’s eyes move. Woody’s entreaties to Meyer to wake up, wake up, are at once hysterical and achingly touching.

Seeing as this is GCTC’s holiday fare, Burkett unhooked none other than Jesus Christ, unmistakable for the hair, beard, robe and sandals. “My birthday is coming,” he says as if we needed reminding. “Go ahead, get me a present.” He tells us he’s off to see the folks Joe and Mary for the holidays and complains that his mom still rags on him to bring home a nice girl, “not some whore.” Christmas isn’t so bad, he says; it’s Easter he hates. “For that I have to go hang with Dad,” he deadpans. Burkett and his puppets are scandalously droll.

Mrs. Edna Rural, a pie-baking, blue-haired biddy in checked Phentex slippers and a Sears house-dress, whose every other sentence ends with “Lord, love a duck!,” hails from Turnip Corners, Alberta. She regaled us with her story about mistakenly adding to her pastry dough the ice cubes that contained dill from her bumper crop. Everybody loved her dill dough (say it fast). Lord, love a duck is right.

For the two skits involving the foul-mouthed lounge lizard Rosemary Focaccia (all saggy in her hot pink mini-dress and go-go boots) and Miss Lillian Lunkhead (“Canada’s Oldest and Worst Actress,” overdoing Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and), Burkett enlisted from the audience two volunteers—more like ‘voluntolds.’ What he gets them to do is priceless, worth every penny of admission.

The Daisy Theatre will beguile you despite Burkett being in plain view, stringing you along. It can make you believe in the magic of Childhood Past by revisiting enchanting yet subversive characters we all know yet seldom see any more. GCTC’s Irving Greenberg Theatre is the perfect-sized venue for Burkett’s brand of artifice. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

At GCTC November 29 to December 18, 2016.
Tickets: 613-236-5196. No one under 16 age will be admitted.

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