rEvolver Festival: Kolejka

Babushka. Credit: Jalen Saip
Credit: Jalen Saip

At The Cultch May 14, 15, 17 and 22

Posted May 13, 2016 

Billed as a “brand new, grown up puppet show”, Kolejka (koh-LAY-kah) goes back to the 60s and 70s when there was a shortage of consumer goods, including food, behind the Iron Curtain. In the line to buy or barter are Babushka (a long-nosed, hollow-eyed old lady puppet, mostly handled by Randi Edmundson) and another bunch of hopefuls. A clothesline hung with various hats turns Jared Raschke into half a dozen characters in line with Babushka. Also involved is a hungry, feisty little puppet dog (handled by Stephanie Elgersma) with a tail like a metronome on speed. Babushka not only is looking for something to eat but she’s lonely and looking for someone to love. The dog, who attaches himself to her, is enough for a while – until it’s unaccountably shot (!) – and Babushka hooks up with a mustached, bushy-eyebrowed gent with a fishing rod.

Presented by star star theatre, mentored by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop and directed by Mika Laulainen, Kolejka combines rod, hand and shadow puppetry in a simple, folk tale. The meticulously crafted puppets, created by Randi Edmundson and Stephanie Elgersma, and the original gypsy-inspired music by Julie Casselman make this 45-minute piece work. What’s needed is a stronger and less repetitive story to tell. I kept expecting the fisherman to catch a fish and he, Babushka and the (now-dead) dog would dine royally together. But that’s another story.