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If you go down to the woods ..

Audience participation is key as children help the heroine on her forest quest in an Edinburgh Fringe production.

Audience participation is key as children help the heroine on her forest quest in an Edinburgh Fringe production.

Good will always overcome evil in Theatre Alba's children's shows - but only if the audience really wants it to happen and are willing to give a helping hand.

In the Russian folk tale Baba Yaga and the Girl with the Kind Heart this involves the children following the heroine Anya into the forest to confront the evil witch Baba Yaga.

Journeying through the forest, the beautiful wooded gardens at Duddingston Kirk, the children are encouraged to search through trees and bushes to look for things that will help Anya on her quest - a large bone, a jar of cream and a magic red ribbon, among other hidden objects.

These are seized with delight by eager hands and delivered to Anya and the wandering minstrel who accompanies us to the witch's den aided by a mouse called Moosiekins, a cat called Meeowshka and the floppiest guard dog you will ever meet, who goes by the name of Barkofski.

This is a colourful, comical, musical and magical journey which enthrals the young audience at every point and is a pleasure for any parent or adult to witness.

This is site-specific theatre in one of the most beautiful settings in Edinburgh looking out over Duddingston Loch and has been home to Theatre Alba's Fringe performances since 1998.

Baba Yaga is part of the company's Russian season this year which also features Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and two of his short plays Smoking is Bad for You and The Bear.

At the end of our quest, having narrowly escaped the clutches of Baba Yaga, we are assured that Anya really is the girl with the kind heart when a toddler rushes forward to take her hand during the company's farewell song.

Not a dry eye in the garden, as they might say.

For performance details go to: www.theatrealba.com.

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