Theatre review: Slug, Scottish Youth Theatre, Glasgow

Slug: a colourful and eloquent show
Slug: a colourful and eloquent show
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Remember, slugs are cleverer than you, says the radio advice to gardeners that occasionally punctuates Visible Fictions’ latest touring show for children; and that’s certainly the case, in this vivid but slightly overlong clown show advertised for audiences of seven-plus, but probably suitable for anyone over four. On one hand, there’s a man (a slightly self-conscious Ronan McMahon) whose garden is his pride and joy; there are carrots, tomatoes, lovely big lettuces, and a gorgeous pink flowering plant.

Slug, Scottish Youth Theatre, Glasgow *** 

Then on the other hand, there’s the slug, cheerfully embodied by Caroline Mathison, who outwits the poor gardener at every turn, munching her way steadily through all the veg, and constantly threatening the flower as well; and in the background there is actor and musician Ashley Smith, providing a superb range of music, sounds and voices to accompany the action.

In the end, the show’s series of ever-more-desperate plans to defeat the slug, followed by the predictable crushing defeat of these plans, becomes a shade repetitive.  Last Wedneday morning’s junior audience began to wriggle restlessly after about 40 minutes, long before the gardener’s climactic effort to catch the slug and post it to Hawaii; and the final happy ending, in which the gardener ends up celebrating the birth of a whole new generation of slugs, seems a shade improbable. Yet with Kenny Miller providing vivid design, and fine music by Alan Penman, SLUG remains a colourful and eloquent show about a problem all too familiar to anyone with a garden; and a jolly hour of entertainment both for children, and for the child in all of us. Joyce McMillan

On tour until 9 November