Baba Yaga Bony Legs
Disappointing multi-sensory adaptation of Russian folktale
This article is from 2009.
Greeted outside the theatre with bread and gooseberry jam, those ‘scared of the dark’ are advised to leave. Those willing to take the risk are led into a darkened room, where the actors’ unmoving shapes are semi-visible. The dark is full of our expectations, ready to believe (as promised in the flyer) that this ‘unique experience’ will ‘challenge [our] imaginations and senses’ …
What follows is rather a disappointment.
Two voices moving unseen around the audience narrate the journey of little Masha through a big forest. The ghoulish characters in Masha’s story join the narrators in loudly-chanted refrains. Verbal repetition – suggesting a resistance to the forward flow of ‘worldly’ time – works well when the cast chants in unison. However, when a single member shouts something different over the top of the other voices – usually something important to the advancement of the plot – it ‘s often difficult to make out.
Showers of breadcrumbs, smelly smoke and feet-tickling all feature in the telling. But the multi-sensory impact of the play could be greater. While my ear drums were enthusiastically attended to, my nasal passages and taste-buds felt neglected. More smoke, more jam and bolder groping, please.
Sweet Heart, 208 0028, until 16 Aug, 3pm, £8 (£7).