Heart Puppetations is a light-hearted musical comedy about a guy who creates a puppet modeled after his ideal woman and, with a little help from a fairy godfather, brings her to life in hopes of having a lifelong companion. To his surprise (and my relief), the feisty puppet, Rose, isn’t exactly ready to settle down. Although this production feels a little green right now, it has a lot of potential to grow into something special.
I have to be honest in saying that the feminist in me was a little nervous walking into this show as the idea of a man creating his “perfect woman” into a literal object for the sole purpose of making her his girlfriend didn’t sit well with me. However, the direction of this piece is pleasantly surprising and in particular the amount of depth in the characterization of Rose. Easily the strongest element in this entire show, the puppet Rose (played by Miriam Drysdale) has some incredibly interesting moments on stage.
The first moment, for example, is when she first comes into being and Sandy (played by Sandy Gibson) tries to name her, Lily. This does not sit well with the newly realized being and she demands that she name herself. She chooses the name Rose, despite having earlier protested about being named after a flower, to deliberately usurp authority from her maker.
Becoming increasingly fed up with Sandy’s perpetuation of the patriarchal narrative, Rose bursts into a fantastic rock ballad, belting out the lyrics, “You might be my maker, but I am not your match.” This is woman empowered! Truly the highlight of this show.
My biggest criticism of this show is that the text appears to pigeonhole itself with the rules of its magic. Rose’s de-animation at the presence of other individuals necessarily determines her relegation to Sandy’s household where she’s left to do nothing except “Google things.” So of all the hobbies and interests a newly born and newly empowered female could ever decide to pick up, she goes with two staple women-centered stereotypes: cooking and cleaning. It comes as a bit of a let down after having been so built up by that “maker vs match” song.
Overall, Matt Chisholm (who appears as Boo Boo and Matt) and Gibson are certainly supportive on stage, but it’s clear to me who the star of this show is. This show is in definite need of some polishing, but I am hopeful that they could make this something truly compelling.
Heart Puppetations written by Miriam Drysdale
Directed by Paul Barnes
Playing at BYOV 3: Studio 311
Show times and ticket information found here.