More puppets! More puppets!: IRC's 'Enchanted' wakes us up to the real world

If it seems as if the puppets are taking over, it's because they are. The Idiopathic Reticulopathy Consortium employs puppets for several of the roles in Jean Giraudoux's "The Enchanted," playing at the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5 through March 5.

I tell you, I wasn't exaggerating: The puppets are taking over.

Which, as far as Philly theater goes, is cool with me.

In my Theater Beat column, I discussed preparations for Hand to God at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, with actor Aubie Merrylees and puppetmaster Robert Smythe working on puppetry techniques.

But what's here? Why, it's the great Idiopathic Reticulopathy Consortium, which is putting on The Enchanted, a 1950 English translation by Maurice Valency of the play Intermezzo written in 1933 by French diplomat and playwright Jean Giraudoux. They're doing it through Sunday, March 5, at the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5.  It's a reverse fairy tale, in which Isabel, obsessed with personal ghosts, is led back to the magic of the real world. True to their absurdist credentials, IRC casts many of the roles as puppets, who aid in the project of bringing Isabel back to us. The puppets are designed and run by Mark Williams and directed by Rob Cutler. Tina Brock is the play director. 

So the IRC has been putting on a series of YouTube videos, titled In the Situation Room with Gilberte, in which a puppet interviews designers, castmates, and other residents of the provincial town about the latest goings on. And let's note: The puppeteer behind Gilberte is none other than Daniel Barland, a recent Temple grad in his first IRC show. 

Episode 1, titled "Miss Jane Moore on Acting," features the great Ms Moore, who plays the pivotal role of the Doctor in The Enchantment. Gilberte is very funny, in a loud, sixth-grade fashion. As to picking her nose on stage: "I don't want to! I have to!"

Episode 2, "In Which the Stage Manager Cracks the Whip," takes on Gilberte's penchant for nose-picking head-on. Here, her victim is a stage manager named Chris:

And Episode 3 is sillily titled "On the Entomology of Ants":

The Enchanted, by Jean Giraudoux, performed by the Idiopathic Reticulopathy Consortium at the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5, 825 Walnut Street, Fifth Floor. Tickets: $25. Information: 215-285-0472 or