As the lights are dimmed, the audience is met with a shiny lobby area adorned in silver. Vaselina (the receptionist, played by Elizabeth Hayes) is being bombarded with phone calls from the tenants of the building’s apartments. Projected talking heads show up in different places around the space. One lights up the balloon above the lobby counter, another on the seats, and so forth. The visual effects are used to astonishing effect and leave a significant mark on the audience’s overwhelmingly positive impressions of the piece.
As the voices of the tenants increase, the whole feeling in the theatre is intensified. They are all complaining about one particular tenant, Baba Yaga (played by Christine Johnston), a lavish lady who owns a lot of cats despite them causing all kinds of trouble. Vaselina, a quiet and shy girl who plays with babushka dolls, is out of her depth and doesn’t know how to handle the situation.
Through an incredibly visual and visceral journey, Baba Yaga takes the character of Vaselina on a journey to find herself. The show has, in many ways, the full package: from the visual staging, to the musical numbers, and the more interactive elements for the children to get involved with, the production went down a treat. On the day I watched the production, most of the young audience did not speak English – but they still absolutely loved it. With clapping, gasping, singing, and dancing in the seats, it was clear that the visual elements of this production have a striking impact – even on those that don’t understand the English language.
For more information about this production, click here.
Produced by Windmill Theatre Company (Australia) & Imaginate (UK). Directed by Rosemary Myers.