Nasty puppets cavort and plot in Liver Diie Production’s FringeKids! premiere of Liver Diie: The Live Action Monster Maze Game Show of Treasures and Horrors at the Toronto Fringe.
The opening theme music and creepy announcer warning all children under eight to leave the theatre set the tone for a scary, silly show. That’s what I signed up to see: how puppets could scare both children and adults.
Douglas Hurst’s puppets were not enough to distract me from opening night technical difficulties and an uneven story (or George Ignatieff’s cold auditorium).
When monster puppets (operated by Douglas Hurst, Bert Ainsley, and Marilyn Anne Campbell) clanked their fangs, claws, and googly eyes, I sat on the edge of my seat. I even felt small pangs of jealousy for the little boy in the front row, inches away from them.
The sound design for Liver Diie suffered from long pauses. My shivers of fear at the fantastic, bloody monsters stopped when the soundtrack abruptly stopped.
Too many fart noises also sucked away the puppets’ horror. The kids did giggle at Farty’s dirty brown fur and loud bodily functions, but even they stopped laughing after his first scene.
The children puppets really bothered me as stereotypical bad kids. En route to juvenile detention, these kids got into fights, used racial slurs against each other, and popped pills.
Later in the show, a comment about one puppet child’s alleged sexual abuse sounded like it was meant to be a teachable moment, but it startled me. I’m not one for trigger warnings, but I wouldn’t want to explain to a young child what “molested” means.
I appreciated Liver Diie‘s committed puppeteers and the detailed monsters Douglas Hurst created, but I couldn’t ignore these script and technical gaps.
- Liver Diie: The Live Action Monster Maze Game Show Of Treasures and Horrors is playing until July 15 at the George Ignatieff Theatre. (15 Devonshire Place)
- Tickets are $12 in advance, $10 at the door, $5 for young people. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), from the festival box office down Honest Ed’s Alley (581 Bloor West), or from the venue box office starting one hour before the performance. Venue sales are cash-only.
- Be advised that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and latecomers are never admitted. Set your watch to CBC time, and arrive a few minutes early to avoid disappointment.
- Warnings: Show includes fog machine, strobe light, and mature language.
July 04 at 02:30 PM
July 06 at 11:00 AM
July 07 at 04:45 PM
July 09 at 11:45 AM
July 10 at 06:30 PM
July 12 at 12:45 PM
Photo provided by Liver Diie Productions.