By A MacDonald

The Wrong Crowd reimagines the Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga; a loathsome, monstrous woman with a penchant for the taste of children’s flesh. Baba Yaga, played here by the brilliant Laura Cairns, acts as the narrator of this deliciously dark story from a set framed with skulls and atop a pile of bones. This is a performance of live acting interspersed with puppetry; Baba Yaga herself and a sweet, expertly manipulated cloth doll being the notable puppet performances.

This is the classic tale of good versus evil as we follow the story of Lisa (Sarah Hoare) and her encounter with Baba Yaga. Lisa is a Cinderella type character who is numb to grief after the loss of her mother. Her hapless father takes a new wife to be mother to Lisa but she, of course, is evil and is bent on making Lisa’s life a misery with the help of her two daughters. Lisa is thrust into the clutches of Baba Yaga at the trio’s behest and undertakes a series of tasks to try to win her freedom and not end up as dinner.

Along the way the audience learn that first perceptions are not what they seem, and that perhaps Baba Yaga isn’t entirely the soulless monster she’s initially painted to be.

All this dark soul searching is interspersed with brilliant timed comedic moments. Tom McCall and Theone Rashleigh have great chemistry on stage portraying multiple characters and lighten the mood at key moments.

This production takes the audience on such a journey of emotions we leave feeling as though we’ve been put through a wringer. There are laughs, excitement and trepidation and such bittersweet love that it actually draws tears. With a smart and engaging script and a truly beautiful performance from this incredible quartet of performers, this show is a highlight of the fringe.

On at Underbelly, Cowgate until 25th August. 15 30 (16 40)

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