Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heart on a String - The Daisy Theatre - Play Review

The Daisy Theatre - Factory Theatre Studio Theatre - Toronto, ON - **** (out of 5 stars) 
Created and Performed by Ronnie Burkett
Runs until Apr. 5th 2015


Ronnie Burkett has created his own famous little world of marionette puppets in a universe of his perverse and darkly humoured twisted plays, but The Daisy Theatre is his latest gift to the stage that tones down the darkness and showcases his beautiful cast of characters in a very funny, and strangely sweet, vaudeville show. The show is apparently improvised and any assortment of his many marionette cast members may appear, but based on the show I saw, Burkett's usual biting humour and tinge of darkness is given a further twist here with a gentle sweetness and hopefulness that elevates The Daisy Theatre from a vaudeville puppet show into a theatrical event that pulls all the right strings.


There's a melancholy self reflection of the raison-d'être of the theatre behind the very funny zingers that poke fun of everything from Canadian theatre to politics and particularly the right wing hold on the current parliament. From the darkness of the stage, the light emanating from the small Daisy Theatre stage, and the heart warming glow from the inanimate objects brought to life by Burkett himself, is simply dazzling and awe inspiring. My jaw remained opened through the entire show in both wonderment and shock and surprise at the magic and the punchlines.

There's a few portions with some audience participation, which often makes me cringe, but kudos to Burkett for his loving interaction (or picking the right people), and making it not only hilariously work, but seemed so perfectly set up and bringing the audience more into his tiny stage space, I momentarily wondered if those audience members were set up (I doubt it but it was seriously a perfect example of how exactly a show should pick audience members to be involved in a show).


I suspect the improvised show always starts and ends with the little character Schnitzel, who will steal your heart while an old stripper may provide a puppet striptease for you, or a puppet ventriloquist will entertain you, meaning you're watching a puppet of a puppet. The creations, both physically in the mechanics and details of the puppet, and in the characters with Ronnie Burkett voicing them all, all comes together in the heart of tiny Schnitzel (and his even tinnier teddy bear).

Photos by Alejandro Santiago
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