chicken legs © Andrew AB Photography

The House With Chicken Legs (only at Oxford Playhouse until Saturday, Sept 23), is exactly what live theatre is made for; magic and music, fable and frocks, puppets and escapism.

Staged by the renowned Les Enfants Terribles, it’s a story of loneliness, death and redeeming love, based on the novel by Sophie Anderson, which was relished by an audience both young and old.

Chicken Legs © Rah Petherbridge

Adapted and directed by Oliver Langley, the Slavic fairy story figure of Baba Yaga, often seen as a terrifying cannibalistic witch, is here more of a midwife of death, helping people to crossover to the other side.

Baba Yaga (played so rivetingly by Lisa Howard) lives in the house with chicken legs, which moves without warning through the world, always landing on the margins of society, to scoop up the dead and help them onwards to their final destination.

Chicken Legs © Rah Petherbridge

Her grand-daughter Marinka, played and sung brilliantly by Eve de Leon Allen,  is torn between love and duty towards her grandmother, who is training her up to be the next Baba Yaga, and her desire to escape to a different life.

The incredible and multi-tasking cast, (special mention to Michael Barker, who is sharp, funny and utterly engaging, and Stephanie Levi-John, the uber-Yaga), all of whom sing and play musical instruments, control the puppets (created by Samuel Wyer, who also designed the wonderful costumes), and hop from role to role seamlessly.  

Chicken legs rise © Rah Petherbridge

But The House with Chicken Legs is also a sum of its parts – the sets designed by Jasmine Swan, video design by Nina Dunn, musical composition by Alexander Wolfe all ensuring this a production of sheer, exuberant fun.

A brilliant, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining evening for all ages – and only here in Oxford until Saturday!

The House With Chicken Legs is at Oxford Playhouse from Fri 22 – Sat 23 Sep. Book at

Sheila Bailey