Walking into the Assembly Roxy space to be greeted by a tomato with legs, I was a little suspicious of what I had gotten myself into with this show. However, ‘Pickled Republic’ a ‘surreal cabaret’/sketch show in which all the acts are vegetables played by Ruxy Cantir, is astoundingly good fun.
As a solo show, the quality of the piece lives and dies on the strength of the performance and Cantir’s performance makes it such that this show is live and kicking. Her extraordinary physicality paired with the incredible costumes (Visual Design by Fergus Dunnet) that she swaps out between sketches makes this an unbelievably fun show to watch. Also impressive is the speed at which she’s able to get the audience on side while dressed as a tomato with legs. I can’t have been the only audience member who went into this show a little sceptical as to its premise but the humour and power of her performance made it impossible to not buy into it almost immediately.
Although it is very funny, the press release I was sent beforehand, as well as the notes on the info sheet I was handed before the show suggested that Cantir was trying to convey something other than humour (There are many references to existentialism in both documents). There are hints of this, especially in the last two sketches, but I wouldn’t say this is a goal that the piece is entirely able to meet. There isn’t anything wrong with this – the show is arguably more entertaining for not going too deep into anything overly emotional. However, if Cantir’s aim was to, as said in the info sheet notes, make us ask ‘What do you cling to when an ending of sorts is near?’, it may be worth either making the show longer to add more sketches similar in tone to the final two, or swap out one or two of the first set for something that plays into this question a bit more.
Overall, this is a great night out. If you’ve ever wondered what an hour’s worth of sketches by the Muppet Vegetables would look like, you’ll definitely find your (very entertaining) answer here.
Reviewer: Ella Catherall
Reviewed: 13th October 2023
North West End UK Rating: