I was lucky enough to catch a Preview of Ronnie Burkett's Penny Plain this past Sunday at The Citadel. What a fabulous show! Yes, it's all marionettes (wait, there were a couple of hand puppets in there too), but it was a fascinating story of a distopian future all told by Ronnie Burkett through many characters. I thought I would be distracted by the puppets, I was not - I was so in I often could have sworn there were tiny little people inside each of them. The mannerisms were subtle and individual and the story itself, although dark, was compelling. You wanted to know what was going to happen. You were shocked and entranced by the changes in the characters. You cared about them.
It was more than just a play in so many ways. Just the fact that one person was creating the voices and characterization for all the characters and you totally believed them, was pretty cool - but the seemingly effortlessness of the movement was brilliant. There were a few exceptions of Preview night glitches that were dealt with masterfully and if anything underscored the complexity which Burkett made seem so easy. We were all along for the ride and if anything, those bumps brought us more into the piece. It was beautifully lit and scored. All in all, a lovely, conceptually complete piece of art. I highly recommend.