The vegetable Plot – Kids win at The Sydney Fringe (Kids show/Music review)
The Vegetable Plot
Sydney Fringe on the 20th and 21st of September.
The funky get-with-it-world of child entertainment seems to get blessed with more and more talent every day, as changing societal norms allow parented creatives to ‘diversify’ rather than go on the semi-permanent hiatus ‘child’ and ‘family’ used to represent. It will be interesting to see what sort of discerning musically adroit teens and adults all this quality is going to produce, but in the meantime we have a miriad of super cool shows grappling for the very short attention spans of our nations most precious resource. Among the very newest of these is a collective that goes under the moniker ‘The Vegetable Plot’. The Vegetable Plot is the brain child of musical comedian Luke Escombe who, having recently fathered, decided to combine his significant musical acumen and his passion for vegetables into a not so secret plan to use great music and enormous talent to conscript children into an equally ardent devotion to rooted eats. Taking action on this idea, he’s produced the following ensemble:
Leading the bunch are the deep-voiced Aspara Gus (Escombe) and his four delectable singing sensations: Sue Kini (Hannah Crofts), Colly Flower (Georgia Mooney), Ru Barb (Katie Wighton) and Rockit Lettuce (Elana Stone)– better known to older Sydney audiences as the songbirds of alt-country sensation “All our Exes live in Texas”.
Bringing the groove and crunch are the rhythm section of bassist Rutabaga (Noel Mason), guitarist Purple Haze (Aaron Flower) and drummer Mr Beet (Jamie Cameron), who together go by the name of “The Root Vegetables”.Adding the top notes of melody, colour and flavour are keyboardist Tom Ato (Michael McGlynn), horn maestro Blowbergine (Ross Harrington) and earthshaking dancer Tina Turnip (Pip Ryan). Together, they combine to create an irresistibly fun and delicious musical stew.
The Vegetable Plot show is strictly a musical affair, grabbing the kids attention primarily with lots of people doing lots of things at the same time, wearing colourful variations on day-to-day clothing and encouraging movement and dance through the energetic dance moves of Pip Ryan, aka Tina Turnip, who wears a mighty purple feathered headdress over the top of long flowing purple locks, looking sensational as she does a child appropriate version of a vegas show girl, if you can get your mind around that idea. This production at the Sydney Fringe includes some great guest stars (significant given there are ten – to my count – in the original ensemble) one of which is the great Lionel Cole, recently made additionally famous on The Voice, but hitting his career peak as butternut squash, singing a sultry ballad called ‘Let’s make a salad’.
Escombe’s group is beautifully together, experienced and artfully aware of what excites children. There is tons of colour, cool grooves, funky boccolini, gorgeous singing women in tutus and even a bit of vegetable squeezing to analyse freshness. In my viewing of the show, I sat close to the front and was therefore regularly pushed to the side by kids scrambling to get to the floor in front of the band. A glance around the room at the entranced faces in kids as old as ten, down to those still tallying their experience in months, confirmed it is a show that keeps the attention of children, all of them swaying and jumping to the music and cheering at the idea of one more song. The parents will love the show, because the music is top notch and the overarching philosophy right on point, giving them a break from the passionately loved songs of Peppa Pig and that Disney obsession we all love to hate. There is enough in The Vegetable Plot to ground kids in the safety of the familiar and relieve parents with a little variety – not to mention the overall fun of getting out of the house to a local show. The Sydney Fringe marks their inaugural performances, but I’m sure they will be around the traps with many more shows in the future.