The Dolls’ House



Tottie is a loving little wooden doll who lives with her family in a shoebox.

The doll family are owned by two sisters, Emily and Charlotte, and are very happy, except for one thing: they long for a proper home. To their delight, their wish comes true when Emily and Charlotte fix up a Victorian dolls’ house – just for them. It’s perfect.

But then a new arrival starts to wreak havoc in the dolls’ house. For Marzipan might be a wonderfully beautiful doll, but she is also terribly cruel. And she always gets her own way . . .

“But what it is about is loyalty, betrayal, courage, vanity and folly, within a story as beautifully and finely worked as the tiny tapestry chairs the dolls sit on in their lovely new house. Their happiness is shattered by the arrival of one of the house’s original residents. Unlike Tottie, however, she is a very grand doll, made of kid and china and clothed in lace. “Marzipan is a heavy, sweet, sticky stuff like almond icing,” explains Tottie to Apple. “You very quickly have enough of it. It was a good name for her.” Marzipan drives a wedge between Emily, who wants to turn the whole house over to Marzipan and make the other dolls her servants, and the younger Charlotte, who struggles to articulate her sense of injustice until the tragedy of Birdie’s death reveals the truth. So you see, it’s not about dolls at all – it’s as neat a portrait of humanity as you could ever wish.” —Lucy Mangan, The Guardian

The story is also about acceptance and inclusion, about making good choices, about the lasting value of carefully crafted objects, and self-sacrifice. It also respects, validates and models the way that children play with toys, one of the basic tenets of Rag & Bone’s mandate and mission.


Our study guide is available as a PDF here.

Our school set-up information is here.

Curriculum Connections

  • Storytelling through puppetry and music
  • Elements of stage production and dramatic adaptations of literature

If you’re a doll and see one of your kind named Marzipan in the distance, you’d best gather your family and head the other way. That golden-haired beauty spells disaster for you all, at least if your surname is Plantaganet. That’s the upshot of this gentle show, which is adapted from Rumer Godden’s children’s story and features John Nolan, Kathy MacLellan and accompanying musician Russell Levia.

At times using dolls as puppets and at others becoming the dolls themselves, Nolan and MacLellan track the fate of the Plantaganets, who are delighted when they can trade the shoebox in which they’ve been living for a lovely Victorian dollhouse, but are then displaced when the cruel Marzipan appears. The familyfriendly show honours innocence, kindness and hope, and, on Saturday, proved as entrancing for the adults as for the children in the audience.
—Patrick Langston, ArtsFile


Rumer Godden

Rumer Godden, OBE (10 December 1907–8 November 1998) was an internationally renowned novelist, translator, and writer of children’s books.

Many of these have dolls as central figures. With remarkable integrity, compassion, understanding and humour, she describes the world that they live in.

In The Dolls’ House, Rumer Godden says, “Dolls cannot choose; they cannot do; they can only be done by. They can only wish hard for the right thing to happen.”