My Gay Toronto - Bellini's 8 1/2

A puppet visionary

by Paul Bellini

If you’ve never seen a Ronnie Burkett puppet show, you have no idea what you are missing.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Puppets? But I’m a sophisticated person. Puppets are for children.” Well, you are dead wrong, girl. A Ronnie Burkett puppet show might be the closest thing you’ll ever get to pure transcendence at the theatre.

Ronnie manipulates his puppets through strings. The puppets are quite large, and all hand built by Ronnie himself. He performs the show, does all the voices, and builds the sets. He’s a one-man band, and a true Canadian visionary who has been at it since 1986. Two years ago, I took my boyfriend Georges to see Ronnie’s brilliant show Penny Plain at the Factory Theatre, and we haven’t stopped talking about it since.

Ronnie Burkett has a sly, wicked sense of humor, so his shows are laugh-out-loud funny. But he is also a terrific actor, one who channels his performing arts skills through the puppets so that you are convinced that the puppets have a life of their own. Some of these puppets are not people you would ever want to be trapped in an elevator with, but they are glorious on the stage!

The Daisy Theatre is Ronnie’s new show, and it is a must-see. In this bold experiment, the show is unscripted, so that it is totally different every night. It says much about Ronnie’s skill and confidence that he can bring something unique to every audience. This is a show that you might want to see more than once. In any event, you’d be a fool to miss it. “Puppets?” Yes, puppets. And a damn fine puppeteer to go with them.

The Daisy Theatre runs Wed, March 18 to Sun, April 5 at Factory Studio Theatre, 125 Bathurst St.