Vegetables – Secret Location, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer and Director: Nathan Ess

Because the team behind this semi-immersive theatrical experience wants to keep most aspects of its show secret, including its Clerkenwell location, there’s little we can say about Vegetables. The handful of performers try their best, but 90 minutes is too long for the story which becomes increasingly repetitive.

It’s also very slow although there is initial intrigue in wandering around the fine old building. A few rooms have things in to look at, but Muddled Marauders’ budget is obviously much less than other immersive companies such as Punchdrunk where every detail of their worlds is painstakingly recreated. Here, carrots and potatoes float in jars full of murky formaldehyde, but the aesthetic is pretty hit-and-miss.

But after this journey down the corridors of Clerkenwell Bio-Botanics, the experience of Vegetables is decidedly static with not much happening until we enter the underground laboratory where things get a little silly. But at least here the room is convincingly designed; lots of knobs and flashing lights conjure up the Tardis from Dr Who’s early days.

However, a contrivance that occurs in the waiting room a little too quickly makes us realise that we are to be passive observers rather than participants in the experiment to prove that vegetables have sentience. We feel more like lemons than a Jerusalem artichoke.

One of the show’s problems is that there is too much comedy, which undercuts the sinister nature of the narrative. At one point, one of the actors appears to have an attack of the giggles which has to be quickly taken care of. Perhaps he, too, is aware of the ridiculousness of the story which is overcooked like Christmas Brussels sprouts.

With the audience being so small, limited to around a dozen people, Vegetables is certainly an intimate experience, but it could be snappier. At the moment, it drags on until the pan boils dry.

Runs until 23 June 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Cold potato

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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