Dolls’ House


Work-in-progress, Pegasus Theatre.
Video still: Peter Jones

A derelict dolls’ house and an abandoned bag of costumes found in our rehearsal space were the unusual starting point for this Café Reason show. Through them, we attempted to explore the classic dream symbol of ‘The House’ and open a window on the inhabitants’ lives and dilemmas. Our inspirations were many and various, from Georges Perec’s classic novel Life A User’s Manual, which tells the story of a Parisian apartment building, to a contemporary Japanese doll-maker, who populated the landscape with her life-size creations. Between 2012 and 2015 we undertook research and development – teasing out and reinterpreting the tangle of meanings hidden within the walls of our Dolls’ House: location and dislocation, pattern and chaos, restriction and freedom, self, family, and the passage of time.


R&D at the Museum of Childhood
With Jeannie Donald-McKim

Directed by Jeannie Donald McKim, we worked with musicians Malcolm Atkins, Bruno Guastalla, and Pete McPhail, and film-maker Dariusz Dziala, incorporating original video and specially-composed music to underpin the characters’ struggle with the limitations of their bodies, gender, roles, and relationships. In 2015 we received funding from Arts Council England and Oxford City Council and were able to put on the complete performance in January 2016.

In addition to taking part in the creation and performance of many of the ensemble items, I also developed an earlier solo (‘Trunk’) – which I had originally devised as a piece of light-hearted physical theatre – into a much more abstract and enigmatic butoh performance (‘Becoming’), taking place in extreme restriction and never revealing my face, other than in the form of a mask at the end.


‘Becoming’ solo
Photo: Paul Freestone
Click image to see video clip (45s)