Ma Biche et Mon Lapin (literally: my doe and my rabbit, although there’s likely a more elegant translation) shows a collection of couples falling in love, out of love, kissing and making up. French company, Collectif AÏE AÏE AÏE use a form of puppetry that experts would call ‘object theatre’ to tell their tales with wit, flair and lovely attention to detail.
The setup is simple yet effective. A black box set, two performers (also in black), and the only illumination focused on a china rabbit that sniffs, hops, and explores the china deer occupying the other side of the table. Charlotte Blin lifts the ears off the bunny and it becomes a loud speaker. Julien Mellano bisects the deer to reveal another speaker – and a handy piece of bread to receive the pâté conveniently located in the bunny’s bum, so they can snack.
In the creative hands of Blin and Mellano, ordinary objects are elegantly transformed into little lives. A napkin and a penknife live happily ever after, thanks to the opportunistic coupling of a tiny bottle of brandy and a tiny glass tankard. But the burgeoning romance between the brandy bottle and the tankard is thwarted when a sinister figure pays a fleeting visit in the night.
This is a quirky, funny, and incredibly charming show. With a raised eyebrow, a fractional frown, a disconsolate expression, the performers imbue the inanimate objects with personality and heart. An eclectic soundtrack gives momentum to the patchwork of stories., and the small space is artfully lit. Moreover, brilliantly inventive props keep you guessing about what’s coming next. If you thought you’d seen puppet sex before, these couplings are perfectly elegantly French.
This object world is sweetly simple. Couples meet. They fall in love – or at least fall into bed. They squabble. They make up. Even the gloomy shadow of grief doesn’t drag them down for long. But it’s an endearingly presented exploration of how we mostly seem to prefer being together than not. Told with napkin rings and crocheted doilies. Truly formidable.