Ronnie Burkett's The Daisy Theatre delights at The Cultch

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The Daisy Theatre | Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes | The Cultch Historic Theatre | March 21 – April 9, 2017

“Fasten your seatbelts and clench those sphincters! Let’s do a puppet show!” Thus began Ronnie Burkett’s variety show of puppetry that lasts anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes and is never the same two nights in a row. While there are songs and skits that he has prepared, which ones make it on stage and what he adds to them each night depends on how he feels and what he thinks the crowd will enjoy.

The marionettes in the show are beautifully detailed life-like characters that really take on a life of their own. Although you can see Burkett standing above pulling the strings, the puppets demand attention and this does not take away from their ability to charm us.

Franz and Schnitzel open The Daisy Theatre with their banter about stage left vs. stage right that soon turns political. Things also get meta-theatrical very quickly as they talk about the rule of not “crossing the line” and breaking the fourth wall. The small, high-pitched Schnitzel, also mentions that “there’s a guy up there,” and climbs up to visit Burkett, calling him the “King of the Fairies.”

We were only one scene into the show, and the whole place was in stitches. Then country singer Shirley Do took the stage and sang about her divorce and dropping her ex-husband’s last name: “there’s a hole where your hyphen used to be.”

This may be a puppet show, but it is definitely not PG. No subject was off limits to joke about as Burkett discussed politics, religion, and sex. He even managed to get an audience member to take his shirt off while helping him handle a piano playing puppet. The drag queen puppet sang a song called “I got an out-y where you want an in-y.” And no, she wasn’t referring to belly buttons.

Vaudeville, ventriloquism, country, classical, sexual innuendo — this show has it all, including a touching ending with Schnitzel, the cutest little puppet with a daisy growing out of his head, telling us to use our voices for good. These are puppets like you’ve never seen them before, and they do not disappoint.    

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