Old Trout Puppet Workshop: The Last Supper

By Jeff Kubik

Is there something to be learned from the noble carrot? Wisdom is flaky pastry? Can you find salvation in an eclair? Enter the kitchen of Antonin Careme–if you don’t elevate your consciousness, you can at least be assured a good meal.

For those uninitiated in one of Calgary’s most famous puppet theatre companies, rest assured: The Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s latest serving of puppetry goodness, The Last Supper, isn’t just delicious, it’s also enlightening.

"It’s a tale of food, salvation and man’s struggle to find the balance therein," says Trout member Pete Balkwill. "Salvation from the simple things rather than grand ventures–the humble act of being a simple person."

Originally the story of a man, his lunch and the whole of history’s influence in a single sandwich, the production has since evolved into a hybrid of biography and philosophy. Historical, spiritual and complete with a cast of more than 20 puppets, The Last Supper is an edifying experience in the most complete sense of the word.

"Antonin CarĂªme, the father of French cuisine, was a chef in and around the French Revolution," explains Balkwil. "The Last Supper is the story of his life and it includes many of the implications that underly our own lives. What are the things that carry on and impact others later on? How will I be remembered? It could be a random act."

Though the Trouts have already expanded beyond the stage with a short film premiering on Bravo! entitled Commedia Moderna as well as a 25-minute interpretation of the life of Rasputin, their third appearance at the High Performance Rodeo shows their love of the stage–an independent place where cuisine is allowed to mingle freely with the spiritual, where audiences applaud to grandiose visions of the kitchen.

"There’s definitely a kindred spirit among performers, that crazy bohemian lifestyle," says Blackwill. "The demographic is smaller and not bound to be offended."

Puppets and theatre? Who would dare take offence?

The Last Supper runs from Jan. 28-Feb. 21 at the Big Secret Theatre.

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