The show: Penny Plain sits in her rooming house waiting for the world to end. Penny Plain has decided to stay indoors and watch the grass grow up between the slats in her floor. As the world falls apart outside her doors, she plays host to an array of colorful characters who come and go bringing tales from beyond of the inescapable, escalating destruction.
Penny Plain is a metaphor for Mother Earth. She is an elderly woman struck blind from a tragedy as a child and when her life-long companion decides to leave, she briefly opens the door to her world in an attempt to replace him. What she finds is a world of people looking for the very same thing: something that will save them.
Burkett is a master of storytelling. He carefully blends a stream of easily recognizable characters striking familiar chords serious and dark, spiced with humour and sadness, with just enough fantasy to encourage and allow our own imaginations to penetrate.
It took Burkett a year to build the puppets, develop the script, and design and build the model for the set. His mastery of his craft shows in the fine detail and delicate gestures of the marionettes. Burkett has been touring with his puppet shows since the age of fourteen.
There are thirty-five marionettes in the show. Burkett starts off building the marionettes by himself, then is slowly joined by more artists as the job intensifies, though he alone builds the heads. He's worked with the same woman for twenty-two years on costumes.
Penny Plain is a must see. It is the twelfth production from Burkett's company Theatre of Marionettes. Previous International successes have been Billy Twinkle, 10 Days on Earth, Provenance, Tinka's New Dress, Street of Blood, and Happy.
Penny Plain runs until December 17 at the Cultch. Check your local listings for tickets and times. *age restrictions apply.