"Baba Yaga! In Your Dreams"
by Saul Reichlin for remotegoat on 14/04/17

The dazzling Xanthe Gresham-Knight is a story teller of rare and brilliant skills and talent. She will hold you helplessly attracted to her every word and (sometimes extravagant) gesture. In a joyous performance of the utmost originality and daring, she takes her adoring audience through her version of the tales that have come through the ages, but never told in this way.

Baba Yaga, whom you will love to hate, through the genius of Miss Gresham, is a presence that might haunt you, were you not protected by the life-giving love with which the storyteller leads you, Pied Piper like, through the adventures of her characters. Baba Yaga – described by Miss Gresham as 'once a goddess of fire and fertility, now just a witch in Russian folkology. With her iron teeth and cannibalistic tendencies, she scuttles through the forest in a hut, balanced on a pair of hairy chicken legs'.

Dressed in a colourful traditional Russian outfit (gorgeous boots) and occasionally accompanying herself on a piano accordion, it is with immense wit and charm that Miss Gresham mimes and characterises her way through her wonderful array of characters. I loved the three grasping princesses, vying for the prince, but I fell in love with the frog who outwitted them all. The audience were in no way unwilling to share in the fun, and although this would be just perfect for children, the child in all the sophisticated theatre goers who make up Crick Crack followers were fabulously entertained.

The next shows at The Art House, Crouch End, N8, will be on 25th May with Michael Harvey as storyteller, and then on 15th June with Nicky Hennessey. If they're as super as Baba Yaga was last night, they will be high on my list of 'must see' shows.

Meantime I would follow Xanthe Gresham-Knight anywhere.

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