Dramaturg: Adam Peck
Music: Simon Preston
Director: Emma Williams
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
Albert Grimlake resides alone inside his workshop, crafting his beloved puppets, with only a ventriloquist’s dummy likeness of his mother for company. As he gets older he feels he can no longer continue with his work alone and advertises for some help. Muppet loving Eric responds and finds himself learning his craft from a puppet maker with a dark secret.
In this two man show, Dik Downey plays Albert Grimlake and Adam Blake plays Eric but they both introduce, with the use of some fantastic masks, a whole host of other characters, making it hard to believe there really are just the two of them in the cast. The combination of masks and puppets are very cleverly used to allow Grimlake’s macabre puppets to resemble visitors to the shop. The puppets are skilfully designed and crafted by Pickled Image puppet company and strike just the right balance between fun and creepy – from the cheeky looking young boy puppet, Billy, to the ever watchful eye of mother.
The attention to detail in the set is superb, with all the action taking place in the small workshop. Bits of part made puppets are scattered among the tools and discarded pieces of wood – a hand poking out here or a pair of eyes watching you from there – all adding to the tension and spine-tingling feel of the whole production. Any action that takes place in the cellar is implied rather than seen and these moments are timed to perfection by Downey and Blake, creating the darkest scenes of the piece in the imaginations of the audience.
This piece plays hugely on people’s fears of ventriloquist’s dummies so if you really do not like them then stay away, but for most people The Shop of Little Horrors strikes the perfect balance between humour and fear, providing a chilling evening of entertainment.
Runs until 29th March 2014