While the audience for Puppetmongers’ Bed & Breakfast includes children, the play contains plenty of adult laughs of which the kids are blissfully unaware. Originally a one-person show written by and for Ann Powell (if it’s accurate to call something a one-person show when that one person impersonates a houseful), its current incarnation, directed by Sue Miner, employs both her and brother David Powell. There’s so much to look at –beginning with the delightful little figures in a luscious little home—that there’s no chance a child would be bored.
While Bed & Breakfast is over twenty years old (in various productions), Puppetmongers are in their thirty-seventh season.
Ann and David Powell are so much more than puppeteers, whether writing, designing, building, manipulating their creations, or taking acting parts in their plays. Afterwards, in the face to face encounters with their young fans –eager to see their magical creations up close—they also take on roles somewhere between teachers and evangelists.
While the theatrical world is supposedly cyclical, fashions regularly coming and going, puppets seem to be everywhere lately:
- This afternoon I listened to the Metropolitan Opera broadcast of Anthony Minghella’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, remarkable for its use of a puppet playing Butterfly’s young child.
- This past year I finally saw the manipulated artificial wildlife populating the stage in Julie Taymor’s production of Lion King (admittedly a show from several years ago).
- As I type this I am listening to a Saturday Night Live sketch about War Horse, another play using puppets.
Perhaps puppets are now making a kind of transition, from a separate category, to a regular part of the theatrical toolkit, alongside lights, sound, and projections (which at one time were also considered radical). From now on, don’t be surprised when you see puppets at the theatre. They’re not just for children, and indeed are turning up in decidedly serious and adult situations.
But whether puppets take over the world or not, Puppetmongers will continue to quietly work their magic, whether in Toronto or possibly touring elsewhere in Canada. Ann & David Powell will beguile your children, and if you choose to accompany them –for instance to Bed & Breakfast –chances are you will find yourself laughing your head off with all the other adults.
Bed & Breakfast can be seen at the Tarragon Extra Space, 30 Bridgman Ave, Dec 18th, a break for Christmas, then resuming Dec 26th until January 1st 2012. For more info call 416-531-1827 or go to www.puppetmongers.com.