There’s a Lot to Love in A Baker’s Dozen, at the Toronto Fesival of Clowns
Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub. Except in this case, the Baker was found dead, his husband the Butcher is on trial, and the Candlestick Maker is another complicated layer.
In Baker’s Dozen, Adam Francis Proulx transforms one puppet into the twelve members of the jury. These are the individuals who must decide the Butcher’s fate, and we as the audience are let into their thoughts while the court case unfolds. They struggle with the mystery of Baker’s death, their own personal problems, a flawed judicial system, their fellow jurors, their attention spans, their intolerance of people unlike themselves, and so forth.
It should be noted that the Toronto Festival of Clowns’ incarnation of Baker’s Dozen is a workshop presentation, and therefore considered unfinished. The finished work will be presented at the Toronto Fringe Festival this July.
I found Baker’s Dozen largely entertaining. While the same puppet is used throughout the show, it is transformed after each juror’s “monologue”. Eyes, noses, lips and wigs are pulled off and replaced with a new set, transforming it into an entirely new person. Proulx does an excellent job puppeteering – his physicality often lends to the characterization, without distracting from the puppet itself.
Most of the show’s technical aspects rely on Proulx himself, leaving only lights and music to the stage crew. This was fine, as Proulx made the transitions rather humorous while swapping one puppet character for another. These transitions were accompanied by the theme music for the television show Sherlock, however, and while the crime-solving parallel may be appropriate for the story, my partner commented that he found the choice of theme very distracting. The distinct music took him away from Baker’s Dozen and into thinking about Sherlock instead.
I liked the story of Baker’s Dozen for the most part, however despite the short length of the show I found that it dragged towards the end. I think this is because I found that there wasn’t enough variety in the opinions presented. For instance, the first juror was a woman who was prejudiced against homosexuality. Then there was an old man, also prejudiced against homosexuality. Then a gay male juror appeared, and after him a lesbian juror, both of whom leaned more in the opposite direction. I enjoyed the various personalities, but they seemed to be repeating the same arguments with different voices.
While Baker’s Dozen is unpolished and could use a little more work, it is a fun, interesting, physically-impressive show to watch. I recommend checking it out.