Turn the Key’s Gothic delight,
Gemma Aked-Priestley has pulled off a remarkably original and polished piece which is brought to life by a talented young cast.
Presented with many tropes of a classic children’s show – the songs, the puppet work, the anthropomorphised characters – but with some distinctly adult themes, The Cupboard is wholly entertaining and benefits from the juxtaposition without ever trying to be edgy or draw humour from it, which is refreshing. Instead, writer Gemma Aked-Priestley has pulled off a remarkably original and polished piece which is brought to life by a talented young cast.
As Rat 333, Chant-Tuft leads the show with confidence and ease. She’s an engaging protagonist with wide appeal but ultimately it is Elena Whittaker, as Righty the boot, who steals the show. Dressed in a severe black Victorian gown, her cruel reputation precedes her and when she arrives, she is deliciously sinister, manipulating the rest of the characters into following her disturbing devotion to the Cupboard’s mysterious owner, Jack. Burges and Edge as friendly but downtrodden duo Sal and Sweeps provide energetic comic support.
The scenes are broken up with original acoustic songs, provided by Adrian Moore as the endearingly shy Knot (an old piece of rope), and there are also moments of puppetry to move the plot along and provide a few extra voices. The standout element, however, is absolutely Kyle Flynn-Davies’ costume and make-up work. The set (mostly cardboard) is a little ramshackle - although this just contributes to the ‘children’s show’ aesthetic, making the dark themes presented more powerful. The costumes, on the other hand, are perfectly put-together and impossible to look away from - Flynn-Davies knows what he’s doing, and his design work elevates The Cupboard to its fifth-star status.