by Lynn on December 25, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

The following review was broadcast Friday, December 23, 2011. On the Friday Show, CIUT, 89.5 FM. BED AND BREAKFAST at the Tarragon Extra Space until January 1, 2012. Damon Scheffer is the host.

1) Good Friday morning. While it’s the holiday season, Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer has taken a break from shopping and is here to tell us about a play called BED AND BREAKFAST.

Hi Lynn

That doesn’t have a holiday ring to it. What’s it about?

First a little background.

BED AND BREAKFAST is produced by the wonderful company of puppeteers called Puppetmongers.

It’s composed of brother and sister puppeteers: David and Ann Powell who create the shows, make the puppets, sets and props, write the scripts and act in the shows.

They always have a production at this time of year that might be based on a fairy tale but they give it their won stamp.

A few years ago they did a play called CINDERELLA IN MUDDY YORK which was set in the early days of Toronto when it was called YORK, using the Cinderella story.

BED AND BREAKFAST takes a fairy tale and runs with it.

It’s based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA.

Let me refresh your memory.

A prince was desperate to marry a princess but every one he met was lacking. He travelled the world to meet the perfect one but always came home princessless.

One dark and stormy night a woman knocked at the city gates wanting shelter. The old king went to answer the knocking himself. The woman said she was a princess, but she looked all wet and bedraggled. Hardly the princess type.

The queen, (the old queen?) devised a test unbeknownst to the bedraggled princess. She prepared a bedroom with 20 mattresses Piled one on top of another, onto which she piled 20 feather beds. And placed a hard pea under all of it.

The thinking was that if she was a real princess she would be so sensitive to that pea she wouldn’t be able to sleep. And sure enough in the morning the woman was asked how she slept and said that she hardly slept because there was something hard in the bed that prevented her from sleeping well….black and blue she said she was.

So the royals were convinced she was a real princess and the prince married her.

BED AND BREAKFAST takes the story of THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA and runs with it, giving it a modern sensibility.

2) How so?

It’s written by Ann Powell. She’s always been annoyed at the original Hans Christian Anderson story.

To quote from the Puppetmongers newsletter:

“She found it ridiculous that a princess should have to marry a prince she’s never met just because she’s had a bad night’s sleep.”

By the same token it’s ridiculous now that the prince thinks he must marry royalty to be happy.

In BED AND BREAKFAST we are in a beautiful miniature Edwardian palace. Amy, a housemaid in the palace loves bugs. The prince also loves bugs and loves nothing in the world more than to discuss the bug world with Amy. She in turn can’t wait to tell him of the bugs she has found in the garden.

They obviously love each other. The prince proposes. Amy accepts. And the queen promptly fires her because in royal circles a maid can’t marry a prince. How times have changed.

Amy leaves. The prince is heartbroken and decides to leave too to wander the world seeking adventure and to try to forget Amy. It’s impossible. At every turn he sees something he would love to share with her, which makes him long for her more.

One day, a year later, a pretty, poised, woman comes to the door of the palace. It’s Amy but she doesn’t admit it. She’s looking for her prince but he’s still travelling and pining for her. The queen doesn’t recognize her.

She only sees who she is certain is a real princess. The servants have a hint it’s Amy and are determined to help her.

The same test with the mattresses is done, but with a wonderful twist.

3) How old do the kids have to be to see it?

It’s for kids five and up and when I went there was a good cross section of ages.

4)How does that work in the performances? Little kids are entertained by different things that entertain older kids.

That’s true. The little kids are interested in the story. It’s simple and Ann and David Powell never talk down to them. Even though they are puppets, director Sue Miner directs them and her puppeteers to treat their audience both small and tall with respect.

And Miner does direct the puppets. They have gestures, expressions and reactions, just like a live person would. The older kids are intrigued by the beautiful miniature set with its sliding doors that reveal a four story palace in cross-section.

There are projections, animation, and a model plane flies in bringing the returning prince. There is a miniature bath tub, miniature furnishings including a grand piano and tiny puppets, chandeliers and lots and lots of mattresses.

So it’s story telling that grabs the younger kids. The magic of the creation of the show grabs the older ones. The script is laced with witty comments and observations that are hilarious for the adults.

And the final twist in getting the lovebirds together is inspired.

BED AND BREAKFAST is a charming show for kids with some sassy dialogue for their parents, done with wit and imagination.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.

You can read Lynn’s blog at

>BED AND BREAKFAST plays at the Tarragon Extra Space until Jan. 1/12. tickets:

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