The trendy tendency towards fairy tales for adults continues in The Wrong Cloud's latest piece Hag, this time intertwining a number of different tales of witches to create their tale of mythological Russian hag Baba-Yaga. Returning too is their focus on puppetry, with the main character (and narrator) Baba-Yaga a rather well-designed and puppeteer skin puppet.

However, herein also lies the first of many small niggles that get in the way of a wholly enjoyable and engaging piece: while the puppetry is excellent, the design of Baba-Yaga isn't quite good enough to survive the amount of screen time she's given. It's, generally, very good work, but there's some finesse missing.

Sadly, this is indicative of the rest of the production — mostly, the work is to a high standard and largely clever, insightful and well performed, but there are too many little niggles, too many small moments that shatter the larger illusion and make it hard to get lost in the piece.

The greatest problem is the plot, which borrows from a number of different fairy tales, and seems to meander frequently between a number of different fairy tale story devices: the ugly stepsisters, trials of three and doting ghost mothers don't exactly mesh into a classic and engaging plot, although various moments do stand out, mostly when the puppetry is more engaging.

Because this is where The Wrong Crowd excell — their previous work is renowned for integrating puppetry within their stories, but this is only partially on display here. The small doll puppet is a great example of this — wonderfully expressive and simple, yet underused and a dead end in terms of the story. The chopping wood sequence (I won't spoil it beyond that) is possibly the only one that manages to maintain the sense of magic that good puppetry creates: there are too many other moments where all I can think is that it could have been better.

There are also problems in performance, even after a month at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Laura Cairns' Baba-Yaga is the only character that's well defined enough to warrant any attention, with second lead Sarah Hoare's Young Girl rarely escaping the 'petulant child' mould enough to have any character of her own. Tom McCall and Theone Rashleigh have more fun playing a host of secondary characters, but they're better at their comic moments than generating any pathos — especially painful in their brief parental figures.

It's such a shame, but it looks like the spark that made this company so brilliant may not have survived their first production; all of the elements are there, but the execution just isn't as slick and intelligent as their last effort. The result is far from unwatchable, but it really isn't enough. This company need a return to the basics to recapture what it was that made them great, or else it may just have been a flash in the pan.

HAG, at Soho Theatre

The Wrong Crowd's star continues to rise with their latest evocative puppet/theatre blend Hag, which follows much in the mould of their previous hit success The Girl with the Iron Claws. The forgettable story is a shame, but the frequent flashes of brilliance still make for an entertaining experience. At the Soho Theatre.

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