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Pickled Vegetables and Existentialism

Pickled Republic: A Cocktail of Tragedy and Chaotic Wisdom

By Itzel Durazo-Encinas

Rating: 5/5

Photo by Andy Catlin Photography

Ruxy Cantir is a talented performer who was born and raised in Moldova and is currently based in Glasgow. She is the face of the extraordinary new solo tragicomic show, Pickled Republic. The show ran on 5th October at the Lemon Tree. 

Cantir invites the audience to peer into the eerie world known as ‘The Jar’ where we encounter the dismay, disillusionment, and despair of various pickled vegetables, including a sexy potato, a dashing pickle, a poignant tomato and, of course, the formidable carrot prophet, Eric. The show, although at first glance seemingly silly, is rooted in the search for life’s purpose, poses existential questions, and shares experiences that I am sure most people can relate to.

The show seeks to answer questions about life in the most hilarious and absurd manner possible. 

I was fascinated by the focus on the ever-present dread of becoming mouldy. At one point, a psychic baby carrot warned the audience that we ‘Cannot escape the mould!’, bringing to mind many people's fear of ageing. The show suggests that once we are old, or mouldy, we are no longer desirable because we no longer possess an appearance that aligns with societal beauty standards, much like how we find damaged tomatoes less appealing than plump, fresh ones.

Later in the show, a sensual potato lay on the floor and sang, “Things are fermenting much faster than expected”, presenting the idea that life moves faster than expected and that it is important to live each day to the fullest.  The audience began to feel bitter about being stuck in ‘The Jar’—  a metaphor for feelings of entrapment and confinement in one’s mind, similar to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

Another section of the show that a-peeled (excuse the pun) to me was when Cantir sat on the floor by a table and we were shown something resembling speed dating. There were two tomatoes (real ones this time)  dancing together and, following a pause, the first tomato told a joke to the second.

“Hey, what did the bigger tomato say to the smaller tomato?”



Photo by Andy Catlin Photography

Cantir then suddenly splattered the second tomato with her hand, abruptly cutting off the audience’s wild laughter. This act stunned the audience with its forceful nature, whilst also evoking a ripple of laughter. There was a moment of silence before Cantir brought out another tomato, and the cycle repeated five or six more times. Eventually, the tomato lost hope in the fruitless quest to find the perfect companion and expressed its desperation by continuing to dance and dance, showing that finding people in life who truly understand you can be difficult, but we must keep trying. There’s a tomato out there for everyone, you will find your tomato companion eventually!

I was fortunate enough to have met Ruxy after the show to ask her some questions. I was dying to ask why she chose to create this project. “I really enjoy absurdist theatre,’ she said, [...] It was an impulse, I think, to make sense of certain things in my world. This piece was born at a time when I was trying to find some purpose, or I felt like I lost purpose… I want to give adults an opportunity to have a brain massage and think about [life] in a stupid way.’

 Pickled Republic does an excellent job of bringing these experiences to the spotlight. I was in awe of Cantir’s exuberant and haunting facial expressions throughout. Her eyes were wide and infused with passion, and her face contorted in manic and exciting expressions.

The audience, myself included, was captivated the entire time by how profound and unsettling the performance was while also finding it rather amusing.

On multiple occasions, members of the audience exploded into laughter, which made the event all the more enjoyable. Perhaps after watching Pickled Republic, or reading this article, you’ll consider picking up the fruit or vegetables at the back of the crate — they too might be feeling a bit lost in life.


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