Humble potato is the star of Baboró play for younger kidsOctober 4, 2012 - 7:00am
It’s a vegetable that’s often overlooked in Ireland, where it is almost as common as muck, but the lowly potato is set to shine when it takes centre stage at at Baboró Festival for Children in a gorgeous show by Scottish puppeteer Shona Reppe.
Potato Needs a Bath, which is a highly visual play for children aged between two and four, features an array of familiar and exotic vegetables and is being performed by Baboró favourite Shona Reppe, who has taken part in the festival on several previous occasions.
Her work was most recently seen at Baboró two years ago in the beautiful show, White, which was presented by Catherine Wheels and designed by Shona, although she didn’t appear in it.
Shona originally trained as a designer, and that skill is apparent in all her shows, but “my favourite thing is creating a world and playing with things”.
Shona Reppe Puppets was established in 1996 and has since been touring Scotland and the world, performing to sell-out audiences and picking up several awards.
In Potato Needs a Bath Shona plays “a kind of a crazy housewife character whose friends are fruit and veg and I am aiming to have a party”.
This eccentric housewife invites all kinds of vegetables and fruits to a birthday party for her friend, Potato.
This guest of honour loves mud and manages to get it nearly everywhere, so before his party, he has to get his first ever bath . . . and he’s not a bit pleased about it.
Shona choose a potato as the central character because “I like potatoes. And everyone knows what it is. A potato is earthy and familiar and lends itself to jokes like getting soap in your eye. They are a nice vegetable and everybody associates them with being mucky”.
Potato Needs a Bath also includes an opera singing aubergine, a sleepy banana, a Spanish onion guitar player, quarrelling twin cherries, and Mrs and Mrs Pear, who met at a conference, and have since had a son, William.
The show, which also features original music, was co-created by Shona and Andy Manley, who created White for Catherine Wheels. The two are regular collaborators, she says, describing Andy as “a good friend and a great theatre maker”.
They ‘auditioned’ fruit and vegetables before allowing them into the show because “we wanted to have all the ones we could build stories around”.
And that’s what they did, with Onion practising his guitar, Aubergine wearing her new necklace and Peach bouncing on the bed with excitement.
Shona’s attention to detail has been praised by critics from Scotland to America, while the show contains jokes which will appeal to adults as well as children.
When it comes to Shona’s audience, “I like people and it doesn’t matter if they are really young or really old”.
“Good theatre is good theatre,” she points out. “I enjoy performing for kids and families and the only difference with young children is the topics and subject matter.”
Her own two children are aged three and six and she is often asks if she tests material on them. The answer is no.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.