Brian Cox Studio, SYT, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

four stars

As many a keen gardener will tell you, slugs – and the guzzling havoc they bring to a vegetable patch – are no laughing matter. But this latest family show from Visible Fictions – devised by co-directors Douglas Irvine and Melanie Jordan for audiences aged 7+ – takes a mischievous, tongue-in-cheek approach to the battle between proud grower and invading gastropod.

Real vegetables arrive on-stage in neat rows, laid out by a cast of three who will – more or less wordlessly – bring to life a hard-fought conflict that nonetheless ends happily for both sides. At first, the destructive inroads are just a matter of a couple of carrots. We watch as Caroline Mathieson pulls up her hoodie (with Slug’s antennae attached) and goes marauding. Crunch, munch, yum! Next morning, gardener Ronan McMahon discovers there’s been a thief in the night – and they’ve left behind some sticky, gooey slime.

His horror – physically expressed from top to toe in a quiver of outrage – has youngsters (and adults) in fits of laughter. His tussles with the slime are a bonus, not least because of the squelchy-farty noises that accompany them. These antics repeat over and again, as the Slug cheekily devours everything and the gardener’s rage builds into militancy tinged with hysteria. His beloved, beautiful flowering pot plant is now in danger. As he lines up defences – with live musician Ashley Smith, providing a witty soundscape on flute, saxophone and vocalisations – it’s clear he intends to ‘slug it out’ with an army of guard-gnomes, even a tank.

That these desperate measures are kept ridiculously funny, owes much to McMahon’s goofy panics and Mathieson’s crafty tactics when it comes to outwitting him. Her naughty Slug is possibly the only one of its species we will ever find loveable, so it’s a relief that she survives, as does the gardener’s prize pot plant. For now, anyway...!

On tour - details at