Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Toronto Fringe review: My Big Fat German Puppet Show

By Christopher Douglas

When Frank Meschkuleit first takes the stage, he evokes the image of Monty Python's Mr. Creosote, bloated and round, moustachioed and German accented. My Big Fat German Puppet Show reveals its performative nature after a brief musical interlude with a saw... though I'm not sure the saw is German, or a puppet.

The puppets are often a bit small - so sit close to see all the details.  And they are well-crafted puppets ranging from a zombie to a young German lad to a marionette of the best known theoretical physicist on the planet.  The craft and the appearance of what Meschkuleit brings to the stage along with the laughs in his script almost make some of his racialized comments pass unnoticed.  

At the performance I attended, Frank's mind (and accent) wandered away from the script a few times - and usually resulted in the biggest laughs of the show.  While I enjoyed his work, I wish that he had permitted his own persona to take up more space than his script did with its somewhat predictable laughs and mildly offensive comments and downright silly appropriations of popular songs and cultures.  The show features a few pre-recorded and live sung numbers - including a surprise appearance by a friend from Frank's past - usually performed by the puppets, while the larger Creosote-style character plays the Emcee for the play.

While the show is fun, it isn't so big.  It feels German, or stereotypically so.  But the puppets - the puppets are why you need to see this show.

Info and tickets to all Toronto Fringe shows can be found at fringetoronto.com

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