Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Three men in a tub

Adam Proulx gives the nursery rhyme a back story with his new puppet show

Adam Proulx gives rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub, a homoerotic back story in his new puppet show, Baker’s Dozen.

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub is, as the saying goes, enough to make a man stare.

But when the Baker, of the English nursery rhyme, is found dead in said tub, his husband, the Butcher, is the prime suspect, and the Candlestick Maker has made like wax and run. Who will solve this mystery of the post-nursery ages?

Actor Adam Proulx attemps to do so in his new one-man puppet show, Baker’s Dozen. “I didn’t really go into this thinking I’m going to write a gay show, but it just kind of crept in,” he says. “I mean, when you’re dealing with three men in a tub, it kind of has to happen, I guess.”

Proulx’s first foray into puppetry began with the Canadian premiere of Avenue Q, in 2012 at the Lower Ossington Theatre.

He met Nicole Stamp and Mike Petersen, a fellow cast member and an established puppet consultant, respectively, through that production.

“We would spend hours outside of the show talking about weird things,” Proulx says. “We came up with weird ideas to play with, like if Princeton, who’s a lead character in Avenue Q, is lying on the ground, what looks better? Me sitting on the ground with Princeton lying, or me lying on the ground with Princeton above my head?”

Proulx says that Stamp has an eye for the human element of the show, whereas Petersen, who has also worked on Labyrinth and Fraggle Rock, brings Proulx’s co-stars to life. The “one-puppet” show means Proulx will use a single base puppet who will change appearance, portraying the 12 jury members presiding over the trial.

“The archetype with puppets is they’re children, so then when a puppet opens its mouth and says, ‘Fuck,’ all of the sudden you’re like, ‘I should listen,’ right?” he says.

As an opening act for the Toronto Festival of Clowns, Baker’s Dozen returns to that well known but little-questioned nursery rhyme.

“I think that’s funny they teach you that as a child: that there are three men in a tub, and that’s kind of it. There’s no plot to it. It’s a non-sequitur; they’re sailing out to sea. What’s going on?”