ANDERSON — Whether it’s through an elaborate set or his simple mannerisms that make his masks come to life, Doug Berky knows how to put on a show.
The mask maker and puppeteer’s latest performance, “Foibles, Fables, and other Imaskinations” premiered Thursday at Berkshop Theatre in the Park Place Community Center before going on tour.
Spots are still available for his Anderson performances at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
In “Foibles, Fables, and other Imaskinations,” Berky takes the audience around the world through four tales from Eastern Europe, India, Korea and France.
His storytelling and ability to flow from one character to the next makes it easy to capture the audience’s attention.
Even the curtain speech, where the audience is told things like where the exits are, is done in character. His Yiddish old man sneakily goes from joking about phone usage in the theater to slipping into the first story of the show.
The Yiddish old man may be the simplest story told production wise, with just Berky in his mask talking to the audience, but the actor’s transformation into the character makes it alluring. Even with limited facial expression abilities because of the mask, Berky strips down to the simplest way to tell a story with his voice and tiny movements.
But within minutes he’s able to put on an elaborate show, with puppets and multipurpose props in “The Crocodile and the Monkey” story of his performance. Berky has no problem weaving between the hungry crocodile, trickster monkey and narrator, all while navigating his transitioning props.
Each story has its own moral, and perhaps the heaviest in life lessons is in “The Tiger’s Whisker,” a tale from Korea about a woman seeking help for her husband after he struggles to heal emotionally after returning home from war. Berky’s use of life size puppets and tone makes it an easy story for kids and adults to connect to.