2015 Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Giant Turnip’

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Beech Tree Puppets The Giant Turnip is a gentle retelling of an old Ukrainian folk tale, presented by two classically trained singers with a flare for lyrics and miniature sets.

Using rod puppets and shadow puppets, the husband and wife team of Ingrid Cowan Hass and Ole Hass present the story of two old farmers who very much need the help of their grandson and next door neighbor to get their garden in, and watered, and weeded.

Ingrid Cowan Hass and Ole Hass with puppets.
Ingrid Cowan Hass and Ole Hass with puppets.

Unfortunately, this year, they are down to only one turnip seed, hardly enough for the wife’s wonderful turnip soup. They plant it anyway, hoping to get at least one pot.

Lo and behold, well, you remember the title.  Thanks to a good rain, and much tender-loving care, and a hard working root-gnome one turnip is all the wife will need to feed the world.

The Hass duo have marvelous voices, and the songs they wrote and sing, follow traditional melodies. The craftsmanship on the sets and props, a joy to behold. The pace of the story is as gentle as an old fashioned buggy-ride on a cobble street.  You have to enjoy the scenery and not be late for an important date.

The husband and wife team play all the characters with a simple, direct style; they also handle the moving of the sun and moon and the growing of the turnip, and the thunder and the rain.

Felix Hass handles the sound effects, from the birds in the bushes to the thunder in the storm.

Cecilia Hass helped with the load-in.

As an educational experience for a very young audience, The Giant Turnip sings. As a performance experience for a slightly older child, its slow pace is endearing, but could benefit from a directorial eye looking to tighten.

Running Time: 40 minutes.

The Giant Turnip plays through July 26, 2015, at the Hyman Perlo Studio, Dance Place, 3225 8th Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.

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Robert Michael Oliver
Poet, Performer, Theatre Artist, Playwright, Educator, Writer--Robert Michael Oliver, Ph.D., has been involved in the DC arts scene since the 1980s, when he co-founded The Sanctuary Theatre in the old sanctuary of Calvary United Methodist Church. Since those fierce days in Columbia Heights, he has earned his doctorate in theatre from University of Maryland, raised two wonderful children, and seen more theatre as a reviewer over the last two years than he saw in the previous thirty. He now co-directs, along with his wife Elizabeth Bruce, the Sanctuary's Performing Knowledge Project, which organizes a host of writing and performance workshops, plus Mementos: Poetry and Performance for Seniors, a yearly literature-in-performance Fringe Festival show, as well as Performetry--a monthly poetry and prose performance event at DC's community arts & culture center BloomBars.