What I love about being in the WI is getting to experience things that otherwise I might not have…like watching grown women fall on their behinds during a highly competitive round of musical chairs, or learning a belly dance routine to Alexandra Burke’s Bad Boys.
June’s meeting was no exception and I’d been looking forward to Madame Zucchini’s Vegetable Theatre, ever since I’d heard it mentioned in a committee meeting last year.
The lady herself looked like a green goddess, in a mossy velvet dress with sparkly emerald glitter round her eyes and a halo of knitted vegetables. To warm us up (not that we needed it, apparently) Madame Z had us calling out vegetables in alphabetical order. As we worked from avocado to zucchini, special attention was given to root veg favourites parsnips and turnips – our guest speaker demanded we call out each word loudly, in unison, and I can only hope that the choir practice next door had wrapped up by then.
Once we’d finished our appetising alphabet (and been suitably impressed by our treasurer Vicky Porteous’s knowledge of exotic veg) we moved on to the main event- the Vegetable Theatre. What better production for a group of cultured ladies (and Mme Z’s first female only gig) than the romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, performed by garden produce.
Madame Zucchini kitted herself out with a strap on stage fashioned from a banana box, worn around the neck. Our leading lady was Cheryl Kohlrabi, looking fabulous with her shocking “hair”-do, most of which was flung off during the action. Romeo (a dashing Peter Parsnip) struggled to get on stage (perhaps nervous of all us women) and lost an eye in the process. The passion between the two lovers was palpable…”what light yonder breaks..something like that” called out Romeo to his edible paramour.
The play went on, with a spectacular finale, involving a devastated Paris, crying over his (seemingly) dead child bride-to-be. The scene was acted powerfully by Oliver Onion,whose dramatic exit from the stage culminated in being thrown against my leg. But that’s the risk you take sitting on the front row.
Of course, we all know how the play ends, but you’ve never experienced Shakespeare properly until you’ve seen it done with vegetables.
Madame Zucchini is naturally funny and it is always a joy watching someone perform when they clearly love their job. By the end of the performance, the room was in stitches, with several ladies crying with laughter.
Having grown up around vegetables (her father was a fruit and veg merchant), Madame Zucchini feels the need to be Sheffield’s only vegetable entertainer was always in her -but didn’t fully realise this till a cabaret night inspired her to perform. If pushed, her favourite veggie is the potato, but she is partial to a courgette – there is no veg she doesn’t like.
The night ended with everyone being invited to make their own vegetable creatures, from the baskets of veg and cocktail sticks on the tables. I was able to watch some women create a lovely Queen Elizabeth, complete with cauliflower hair and courgette corgi. But the winners of the evening were the table who created a compost friendly version of the Spice Girls.
So overall, a wonderful, hilarious, random evening. Thank-you Madame Zucchini!
Laura Bainbridge, Assistant Treasurer.