The House, Traverse Theatre, Review (Manipulate Festival)

Rating (out of 5)
The House - photo credit Sofie Krog Teater
Show details
Sofie Krog Teater
Sofie Krog and David Faraco (writers and producers), Cuco Pérez (composer), Martin Toft (direction adviser), Jette Lund (dramaturgy adviser).
Sofie Krog and David Faraco (puppeteers).
Running time

How many times have you heard that walls have ears or that if only they could talk?  Houses are museums of the acts and memories of all those who have lived within them. The one before us, a wonderfully intricate if somewhat macabre sort of doll’s house, is many storied and has an unusual little horror tale to tell.

The house is home to the Warehouse family undertakers, looked over by wealthy matriarch Mrs. Esperanza who lives above the “shop”, but sick these last ten years she is bedridden and now contemplating writing her final chapter by making a change to her last will and testament.

This is an unwelcome potential threat to the acquisitive Flora, married to spiritless Henry the expected sole heir to the business, she plots to ensure that nothing stands in the way of her gold digging.  “All will be mine!” she declares.

The scheme involves misleading the somewhat lecherous and lush lawyer, but stumbling into the plot are two likely-lad brothers Tony and Bruno, the younger having an unfortunate swooning aversion to dead people. Central to it all is Mrs Esperanza’s faithful dog whose role takes some unexpected turns as the storyline becomes a little, well ... barking.

There will be dark deeds, revelations, family secrets, skeletons in closets (not to mention bodies in coffins) and a battle not just for the business but for their very souls.

As the plot pivots so does the house, rotating to peel back the skin and let the audience see the action within. The performance of the puppets is far from wooden, each being expressive and refined even when undertaking absurd comedy and dexterous in handling tiny props and practical lighting. The sophisticated set allows them to move seamlessly over multiple levels and incorporates effects and shadow play.  The occasionally gruesome vocal sound effects enhance the impressive cinematic soundtrack and highlight the pin sharp timing.  The back story and motives of the brothers could be more clearly defined at the opening and the end imparts a yearning for more.

Award winning Sofie Krog Teater is one of Denmark’s leading puppet theatres, famed for its unique cartoon style and intricate sets. The production was part of the Manipulate Festival, an annual celebration of excellence in the fields of animated film, puppetry and visual theatre.

This is an inventive and skilful deliciously dark comedy, more a funfair house of horror than a true frightener but remains a thrilling ride. 


Show Times: 2 February 2024 at 6pm and 3 February 2024 at 1pm.

Tickets: £15 (£12).

Suitability: 13+ Note - Contains graphic comedic depictions of violence and murder. Use of theatrical smoke.