Rat 333 is a painter, and paints her prophetic dreams – behaviour that's unusual for a Rat. Following a dream, she pops up through the floor boards, on her quest to find the big wide world (in this case the Victorian East End of London). But can the mysteries of the world possibly compare to the bizarre and intriguing occupants of the cupboard she finds herself in?
Welcomed by Sal Sack and Sweeps the broom, Rat finds herself in The Cupboard; together, they wake up Fray the rope and sing a welcome song. So far, so happy anthropomorphised musical, but there's also Righty, the ominous right boot. We get snatches and hints from the others of the malevolence and control she wields - and when we meet her, she is indeed dictatorial. But before long, we are wondering if she's menacing as we thought... and whether the others as innocent as we believed.
The costumes and characterisation are excellent, cleverly reflecting the objects they portray and also the darker secrets they hide. Fray does a particularly good job as a person starting to come undone, nervous and always on the look-out. The impromptu puppet shows also add a lot to the overall creepiness and dissonance, and the single set suits well the confined atmosphere.
In retrospect, the nature of the objects does set the scene well, but it is not necessarily clear through the early part of the play exactly when and where we are. This may be intentional - to avoid giving too many clues about plot turns - but it did make it a little harder to immerse yourself in the action. The concept is very interesting, and though the execution is not perfect, it is still a dark and intriguing play with some good twists. The balance between exaggerated happiness and sinister undertones is played well, but sometimes important lines are lost, as characters talk over one another while trying to stop secrets getting out.
As Rat 333 discovers, cupboards are where you can hide away many things; many objects can reflect their owner, and not all new friends are as friendly as they seem. It's worth joining her and the rest of this energetic cast for a surprising and dark tale.