The Daisy Theatre provides a fresh take on A Christmas Carol in Little Dickens

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Little Dickens | The Daisy Theatre | The Cultch Historic Theatre |  December 5 – 22, 2017

Provocative puppets teach us the true meaning of Christmas in Ronnie Burkett’s take on A Christmas Carol. Featuring many of the Daisy Theatre characters we’ve come to know and love, this was a hilarious reimagining created exclusively for Vancouver audiences.

Burkett admitted on opening night that he was more nervous that he’d been in years. There was no script for the show, and he improvised everything as he usually does. But with a brand new show, it is understandable that he might be a bit nervous. He had no reason to worry, however, as his customary adult humour and quick thinking produced witty songs, memorable characters, and a brand new take on this holiday classic.

In Burkett’s version, Daisy Theatre diva Esmé Massengill becomes Esmé Scrooge, a washed up performer who is bitter and self-absorbed. The endearing Little Schnitzel plays Tiny Tim, and gregarious country bumpkin Edna Rural also makes an appearance dressed as a Christmas tree. The Daisy Orchestra (miniature puppets playing instruments) is of course featured in a song or two.

As usual, Burkett takes a few opportunities to pull audience members, preferably Daisy Theatre “virgins,” on stage; and he always manages to convince a male volunteer to take off his shirt. This time, this volunteer wore a Santa hat while ringing jingle bells.

Sticking to the general Christmas Carol narrative, Esmé Scrooge is visited by the three spirits (“vodka, gin, and brandy?” she asks). She realizes that she put her career first and cared more about show business than those around her. Eventually she has a change of heart, sends a large bottle of vodka to the Cratchits, and dons her “redemption gown.”

While A Cristmas Carol may be stale and overdone, this show is anything but. Burkett had the crowd laughing along heartily as his marionettes refreshed this classic with their inventive songs and quirky personalities.    

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