Maris Piper is having a party, and all her fruity friends are invited. There are the bickering Cherry twins, the opera-singing Madame Aubergine, Mr and Mrs Pear, who met at a conference, and their son William. There is poor little Peach, who keeps falling over and bruises easily. There are some veggies in attendance too: entertainment comes courtesy of a Spanish onion strumming his guitar, and the guest of honour is Potato. Potato is a slippery (and dirty) kind of guy. He loves parties, but hates having to get ready, and as Ms Piper prepares his bath he disappears.
This charming show from Shona Reppe invests ordinary objects with a sense of wacky fun. Conceived and designed by Reppe, the combination of set and subject work organically, as an ordinary kitchen becomes a site of invention and surprise. Doors are on the floor, teapots are lampshades, and a whisk has many adventurous uses. Cupboard drawers become the bedrooms for cruciferous characters – baby carrots and bananas who are sleeping in their skins – and bubbles are literally whipped up in an improvised tub to entice the reluctant Potato.
Potato Needs a Bath is performed by Reppe too, in a colourful ensemble of acid green and a pineapple hat for the special occasion. She is an enchanting presence on the Ark’s small stage, though her ad-libbed responses to the audience seemed more sarcastic than sympathetic. At 35 minutes long the pace is perfect for short attention spans, and there is much to excite the imagination of three- to five-year-olds (not least some very clever toilet humour) as well as adults familiar with the diversity of vegetable species. When the party finally starts, everyone jumps up eagerly, to sing and show-off their dance moves, inspired by Reppe’s animation of everyday food-stuffs. Lunchboxes will never be the same again.