We are invited into the supposedly idyllic lives of an average suburban family, where absolutely nothing is amiss. Honestly.
This is a gloriously sinister production.
However, as the endless summer sun beats down on them, the façade of being a perfect family begins to crack. The father comes home with a peculiar story about his journey home from work. The phone rings. The next door neighbours’ daughter has gone missing. The search for her drags everyone’s darkest secrets out into the sunlight.
The performance looks wonderfully like a doll’s house has been brought to life onstage. Mother and daughter are disturbing carbon copies of each other in little yellow dresses, while father and son have identical red cardigans. Victoria Johnstone has done a fantastic job with the costumes. The dialogue plays with repetition and is robotically delivered, which creates the impression that we are watching a performance by dolls. The result is the right level of freaky and sinister under a veneer of pastel normality, which also leaves room for comedic moments. The cast manage the tricky dialogue very well, and they work together as a sound ensemble.
However, as the characters appear to be doll-like, it becomes difficult for them to express emotion. The scenes where characters become angry with each other feel false. Scenes that should pull at the audience’s heartstrings feel unreal, making it difficult for the audience to sympathise with the characters or care about their breakdowns. Furthermore, the sound effects need to be quicker on their cues. In one instance, the line “I can hear her coughing” was followed by a few beats of uncomfortable silence before the effect arrived.
This is a gloriously sinister production that will only get better as their run continues.