Veggie Tales: Cirque de Légume on the Menu for NYC

By , Columnist
Cirque du Soleil? Been there, done that. Radio City Music Hall may be awash with the latest spectacular stunts and vague storylines from those venerable Canadians, but however much you and I may yearn to run away with the circus, we surely can never become acrobats if we don't eat our vegetables. So New York is getting ready to welcome the "utterly bonkers" (The Scotsman) Cirque de Légume, dubbed by Totally Dublin "the best 50 minutes of theatre we've seen this year."

As such international appreciation suggests, vegetables, which know no boundaries and show no patriotic favoritism, can even show us the way to peace - or at least to laughter, which is a good first step. Cirque de Légume, created in Ireland by Parisian-trained performers, has been described by the Edinburgh Fringe Review as "Jacques Tati meets Tommy Cooper...at the greengrocers."

This fall, New York audiences will get a peek at the most talked-about onions and beets in theater when this "Greatest Vegetable Circus on Earth" touches down at 59E59 at part of that estimable theater's annual 1st Irish Festival.

Clearly, the old parental stricture "Don't play with your food" can be profitably ignored by clowns like those of Cirque de Légume. Co-creator Jaimie Carswell describes the a-ha! moment that led to the show's inspiration: an exercise in which "the clown has to go out and find something that they think is the most beautiful thing in the world…walking around Dublin, outside one of these shops, there was a butternut squash."

Lest you still doubt the humor inherent in our vegetable friends, take note that the guests at Queen Elizabeth's post-Royal Wedding lunch reception dined on that venerable veggie dish known as bubble and squeak.

1st Irish will also bring us more serious fare like Michael West's Dublin by Lamplight from Philadelphia's Inis Nua company. 59E59 has established itself as perhaps New York's premier presenter of English-language theater from across the pond; after 1st Irish, beginning in November the theater will present its annual Brits Off Broadway series. Watch this column for reports from both of these fine festivals.

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Jon Sobel is a freelance writer, web editor, theater and music critic, marketing writer, and musician. His newest project is the blog Park Odyssey, where he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City - over a thousand of them.

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