Utterly Enchanting: “The Perils of Mr. Punch”

Presented by Modern Time Theater
Puppeteers Rose Friedman & Justin Lander
Modern Times Theater Website

November 24th thru 26th, 2017
Puppet Showplace Theater, 32 Station St.
Brookline, Massachusetts 02445
Puppet Showplace on Facebook

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Brookline Village, Massachusetts) The puppeteer spouses Rose Friedman and Justin Lander are as lovely as their puppets and, in particular, Justin Lander’s sense of humor was utterly enchanting.  At one point during their opening act, Lander intimated to a kiddo at the front of the audience, “You owe me an ice cream sundae.”  A few minutes later during this musical skit, Lander told kids and presumably their parents that he was holding “one of the many instruments you can make out of old washing equipment.”  For cornballs like myself who thoroughly enjoy observational comedy,  statements like that are a hoot!

I was laughing. Other adults were laughing, but what was most delightful were the happy howls from children who were free to squirm in the chairs as they laughed loudly at a comedy show explicitly intended to please these munchkin audience members.  The entire audience, short and tall, had a totally terrific time participating in the turkey-catching perils of a puppet named Mr. Punch. Mr. Punch was a cloth jester wearing a bright pink hat and shirt.  As soon as he popped onto his miniature stage, Punch menacingly squealed, “I’ll make them sing like chickens.”  For the rest of the show, Mr. Punch was a proper fool that won over the audience with silly dances, claims that he ate jack-o-lanterns, and his love of a “turkey-dog” which turned out to be a skunk.  And really, the bit about his turkey catching skunk was most hilarious as Mr. Punch argued it really was a turkey dog because “that’s what Amazon said online.”

In addition to Mr. Punch and other puppets, all of Friedman and Lander’s props successfully kept us patrons under their ludic spell of giggles.  When Punch’s turkey catching skunk became bothered, clouds of powder puffed onto the front row of pleasantly surprised boys and girls.  While searching for an axe to chop wood, Punch’s wife (Judy) pulled a banana from under her skirt, followed by a toy rake.  Since this theatrical experience was so relaxed and open, wise wee ones quickly responded with “NOOOOO” to every prop that wasn’t a wood-chopping hatchet. It is obvious Friedman and Lander have performed Punch and Judy shows for over a decade, because they really have it down.  It is a fun and flawless event.

Queen’s Note:
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.

Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

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