What if walls had ears? The House from Sofie Krog Theater does – and has hot-footed its way from Denmark to Edinburgh for its Scottish premiere, heralding the welcome return of visual theatre festival Manipulate Arts to our capital city. A comedy thriller with lashings of morbid gore, The House is billed as a show for teens and adults, and features an action-packed 50 minutes of artistry.
Aunt Esperanza is nearing the end of her life. So is her nephew and sole heir, Henry; or that is what his wife, Flora, hopes to be the case. The distinctly undutiful wife has her eye on her husband’s inheritance and will do whatever’s needed to make sure it comes her way. But Aunt Esperanza’s dog has other ideas.
We’ve seen some world-class puppetry in Edinburgh over the years at Manipulate but The House is Punch and Judy on acid. A scale model of a two-storey mansion slash crematorium is our spectacular set, soon over-run by an eclectic collection of beautifully-moulded hand puppets – grasping Flora, the shadowy withering aunt, long-suffering Henry, a frisky lawyer, a toothless corpse, a couple of oafish intruders, and plenty of things that go bump in the night. The dog looks on, aghast.
The story hurtles along, accompanied by truly spooky sound effects and eerily nostalgic music designed by Cuco Pérez. The determined wife enlists her tottering husband in an elaborate plot involving poison, pliers, and a ghoulish severed arm to support her dastardly plan. But will the arm conjure up the will she wants or give the game away?
Though performers Sofie Krog, and David Faraco only have two arms each, it’s hard to believe they don’t have more people working alongside them as coffin lids bang, cellars beckon, curtains flap in the invisible breeze, mystical lights flash, the crematorium chimney is coaxed into life, imposters chase occupants through the cavernous rooms, and the house obligingly spins so we can keep up. Alongside heroic efforts from both performers, their intricately engineered, beautifully lit house is the real star of this story. These walls do have ears – and the consequences are a rambunctious delight.