The Ultimate Pickle was the final of Paines Plough’s world premiering plays that I attended. This play is family-friendly and shows a young person’s experience of grief.

The Ultimate Pickle centres around Dill Pickleton (Princess Khumalo). Dill is a young girl, with the oldest goldfish in the world – Jack Tornedo, aged 9! She lives with her Mam (Sara Hazemi) and Grand-Ted (Samuel Tracy), her grandfather that plays the drums.

Soon, Grand-Ted passes away and Mam is consumed by grief, unable to get out of bed. This leads to her struggling to make ends meet. She runs a food van called ‘Elvis Parsley’, but must get a steady job, as the bank are repossessing the house. This leads to a lot of change, very rapidly in Dill’s life. She must contend with, moving house, schools, her mother changing jobs and working more hours all whilst dealing with the death of her grandfather – and she’s only 11. We then watch as the wolf from Grand-Ted’s Ferocious Tales comes to life, so Dill has all that going on plus a wolf following her around!

This cast of three give high-energy, engaging performances throughout – especially Tracy, who takes on multiple roles throughout the show. The use of props and the space throughout aids the storytelling and keeps things interesting to watch, particularly for the children in the audience.

There are some delightful moments within the show, I especially enjoyed the ‘Mam Check Song’ and Grand-Ted playing the drums and reading Dill stories. At times the music was too loud, which meant we couldn’t hear what was being said clearly – one moment in particular when Mam raps was completely drowned out by music.

The plot isn’t the best, it’s very fast-paced and cheesy. I found that the show lacked emotional depth – we just skim across Mam’s grief and never really explore Dill’s feelings. However, the children within the audience remained quietly engaged throughout the show. They especially enjoyed Tracy turning into a wolf – so The Ultimate Pickle is definitely one that the younger members of the family will love. But there is much more that could be explored here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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