Presented by Visible Fictions as part of the Theatre in Schools Scotland Programme, this eccentric hour of fun provides a superb introduction for children to the art of physical performance. Slug is based on the premise of a vegetable gardener and his ongoing war with his pesky slugs. As the slug works her way through his carrots, followed by cabbages and greens – with an eye on his treasured flowerpot – the action gets more manic. Performed within a sunny garden – a simple set designed by Kenny Miller – the company of three provide their audience with hilarious storytelling, free from dialogue.
Their physical skills obviate the use of complicated props, but instead provide a narrative through madcap situations, self-made noises and live music. The packed audience of P5 and P6 primary school children love it. With a hint of pantomime, they embrace the chance to shout out ‘its behind you’ or at one stage ‘squish him’ as the Slug played by Caroline Mathison thwarts the efforts of the gardener, played by Ronan McMahon, to protect his precious vegetables. Effective sound effects of munching and sliming are provided by multi-talented musician/performer Ashley Smith. The energy required to sustain a piece for one hour and hold the attention of a super critical audience of primary children would be a challenge for many, but not this cast. McMahon never lets the pace and dynamics of his central character lapse in a performance that puts Mr Bean into the shade. There is a softer more nuanced performance from Mathison as she imbues her Slug with a slimy and crafty persona.
Co-directed by Melanie Jordan and Douglas Irvine, Slug has the sure touch of knowing what schoolchildren appreciate as well as remembering the adults accompanying them. The mantra of the company is to produce work which is ‘visually driven, physically dynamic and exposes our shared humanity with curiosity and humour’. This production fulfills all of those and should entertain young children throughout their tour.