What The Dolls Saw presented by House of Macabre
What Is It?
No description will quite do the genre middle-fingering of this show justice. It’s a shadow puppet show and a family drama and a murder mystery and also there’s tap dancing. Imagine Angela Carter presenting a true-crime podcast and you’ll just about get there.
What Is It About?
Sisters Megan, Christine and Zara reunite at the funeral of their dad, a renowned dollmaker. Zara is a Bad Apple and has lived in America, so now speaks in an American accent and has adopted a mute, Belle. Christine is a journalist with a true-crime podcast. Megan has written a children’s book which is too dark to be published. As the tension between them and their irascible mother, Rose, grows, we are treated to a shadow puppet show of Megan’s children’s story about a little girl with a black heart, and witness the sisters chase the mystery at the heart of their own family – the disappearance of their mother’s sister, Lily.
How Did It Make Me Feel?
There is a rollicking self-assuredness to this show that insists that you play along with it whether you want to or not. Luckily it makes itself very easy to love – it is irreverent and joyful, despite also being shamelessly grim. The smashing together of ghost story cliché and a particularly millennial, feminist sensibility works brilliantly and ensures that, behind all the wisecracks, there is a genuinely poignant probing of the intertwining of love and fear. The story wraps itself up a little too quickly, but I might partly have felt that just because I wanted more.
This is the sort of show that the Vaults is perfect for, not least because the Pit feels exactly like a dollmaker’s dungeon.
What The Dolls Saw is playing in the Pit, VAULT Festival until the 9th February 2020.
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