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HAG (Plymouth)

Karen Bussell is not sure who the audience is for The Wrong Crowd's new show at the Theatre Royal

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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I'm not too sure who the audience The Wrong Crowd is aiming to entertain – and scare – with HAG.

Following its debut The Girl With The Iron Claws, HAG is again Hannah Mulder's dark telling of a folk tale – this time the Eastern Slavic story of child-eating Baba Yaga.

Advertised as not suitable for under 10s, I am not convinced that the piece would really hit the spot with budding teenagers who undoubtedly spend their spare time zapping zombies on their X Boxes.

Clearly the capable cast are enjoying themselves and have plenty of pantomimic opportunity for laughs between the gloomy, skull-ridden scary stuff, but HAG would perhaps be better placed in schools.

Laura Cairns (The Girl With The Iron Claws) is believable as the Cinderella-esque Lisa, who is sent on an errand by her ghastly pig-faced step-sisters to collect fire from Baba Yaga's hovel in the woods.

Sarah Hoare (Best New Comedy Performer award-winner) plays the cannibalistic, Glasgow-accented (but rather too softly spoken) hag who delights in kneecaps and tendons for supper and who sets Lisa seemingly impossible tasks to either earn her light or forfeit her juicy bones for soup. (But why, when the task is to set a roaring fire while Baba Yaga is out, does Lisa not just head off with the light she came for?)

Tom McCall and Theone Rashleigh populate the stage as all the other characters, including the dying mother, the clipboard-clutching jobs' worth Charon, desperate widow and spineless dad.

There are some interesting and engaging moments, particularly Frank Moon's sound, in the 70-minute performance, but it is generally somewhat adrift.

- Karen Bussell