When performed at the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto (April 2006), Ronnie Burkett's play Provenance, about a girl who travels to Europe to uncover the story behind a painting, is greeted by rave reviews. Critics are bowled over by the melodrama social commentary in the story, which takes the young heroine through a brothel in Vienna, bohemian parties in Paris and high-society London. As Toronto Life comments: "the painting's history is mixed up with war, incest and rape. The show is an Old Hollywood-esque epic; it's also a serious commentary on the purpose of art." Radicalized by the AIDs epidemic, Burkett consciously sees himself in the tradition of Josef Skupa, a Czech puppeteer who used his marionettes to criticize the Nazis during World War II.
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