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The Enormous Turnip (Ipswich, New Wolsey Studio)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The trouble with a children’s show billed as suitable for the two to six age group is that there’s a vast difference in the ability to concentrate between the extremes of that age range. The Enormous Turnip begins with a lot of words, too many for the very youngest of the children watching. Only when things start to happen – as opposed to being said – does it really begin to come to life.

It’s written and performed by Miki McCretton and Marc Parrett.. They play a retirement-age couple, Dottie and Raymond Chickweed, who have taken up residence in a garden shed (cleverly designed by Edwina Bridgeman to resemble a Southwold beach-hut). This is Mrs Chickweed’s idea; she grows prize-winning vegetables and wants to stay close to her crops. He, on the other hand, wants to travel the world.

Once this is established the couple are still at odds, but agree to plant one final seed before resolving their impasse. Of course it mushrooms into the gigantic globe of the title. In between there’s some song and dance (referencing Sinatra and country’n’western among other influences) and a whole range of animated animal and vegetable matter, including a sparkling earthworm, a talking lettuce, an agitated long-nosed mouse, a very exotic tabby-cat with tigerish tendencies and the aptly-named dog Scruffy.

Some environmental lessons are slid into the goings-on as well as more mundane matters such as brushing your teeth before going to bed, wiping your feet on the doormat, being prepared to listen to other people's ideas and eating up your greens – even though a Himalayan origin is produced for it, broccoli is never going to be a favourite vegetable, I fear. The audience is involved as the Chickweeds’ neighbours and various young helpers are recruited to assist with the turnip’s harvesting. One has the feeling that they give up the animal puppets with extreme reluctance.

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