Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review: (Toronto) The Daisy Theatre (Luminato)

Pure Joy
by Beat Rice

Ronnie Burkett kicked off many Torontonians'  2013 Luminato experience at the Berkeley Theatre with pure joy, at the première of The Daisy Theatre. 

Ronnie Burkett is known for his brilliant work with marionette theatre. He is an artist who brings his pieces of art to life. Every marionette is a character he has built physically in small-scale, and imaginatively, in large scale. 

The show is a show within a show. Burkett tells us at the top that his performance is improvised every night. And there may or may not be an interpretation of a 10 minute play by a Canadian playwright written for the project. With the premise of variety acts about to be performed at ‘The Daisy Theatre’, the scenes are a mishmash of monologues, to short plays, to musical numbers and audience participation fun. He performs in a puppet theatre, a raised platform in a framed box on the stage, which has a little stage and even curtains of its own. Burkett stands up top controlling the will of his puppets that surround him, hanging by invisible threads in the dark. It is a fascinating setup, designed by Burkett himself.

They are wonders of Burkett’s imagination.

I had the lucky opportunity to sit in the front row where the detail and the craftsmanship of each marionette can be seen. The marionettes have exaggerated features with voices and mannerisms to match. They are wonders of Burkett’s imagination. His characters are so fleshed out it's like their souls are revealed to us on his small puppet stage. Do you remember that feeling of childlike wonder? Not many pieces of theatre can make you feel like that again. Burkett’s charismatic storytelling and performance will have you in awe and delight, 

Burkett is fast on his feet, and with his hands. He is a hilarious individual making reference to Toronto and its geographical and political...lets say nuances, which Toronto audiences love. It almost bewilders me how rowdy a Toronto audience becomes when anything about their city is mentioned-but at least everyone is having a good time. Speaking of rowdiness, I must say that this is one of the rare times I was in a typical theatre audience (composed largely of older white individuals) where emotional responses were clearly audible, laughter was loud and uninhibited with people whooping and stomping on the floor. It was refreshing. Thank you Ronnie Burkett for reminding 100 people that it is perfectly okay to express yourself in the present moment while sitting in the dark. 

As mentioned previously, the show is different every night. Last night, Burkett used Anusree Roy’s play, Wedding Date, and invited her on stage  (she was in the house) to read the role of the father. Even though the show varies every night, I have full confidence that everyone of all ages and backgrounds will thoroughly enjoy Ronnie Burkett’s Theatre of Marionettes. Make sure to pencil The Daisy Theatre into your Luminato must-sees.

The Daisy Theatre plays at the Berkeley Street Theatre (downstairs) for the duration of the Luminato Festival from June 14-23, 2013

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