Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Ma Biche et Mon Lapin
Collectif Aie Aie Aie
Institut francaise d'Ecosse, 13 Randolph Crescent
The contents of a typical gift shop come to life in the hands of Julien Mellano and Charlotte Blin as we explore growing up, love, neighbourly interaction and the general vicissitudes of life in this interesting and quintessentially French piece of object theatre. No words, just lights, music and an enchantingly intricate set.
This piece from the Rennes Collectif, Aie, Aie, Aie is probably more towards the esoteric end of the theatrical spectrum. Two ceramic objects sit on a green card table. Behind them are two puppeteers, dressed in black. Ma Biche (the hind, or deer) is the first to move. Mon Lapin (the rabbit) follows. They come to face-to-face and it’s love at first sight, although the subsequent copulating activities are shielded discreetly behind a delicate piece of lace. Similar scenes are played out with a variety of other objects, including pocket knives, French lace pieces, tiny crockery, two Swiss chalets and a series of craftily concealed speakers through which the music essential to the continuity of the show is piped.
We see true love blossom, fade and then die. We see children born and grow up. We see people just coming and going. And all through objects, subtly moved around the small table by these two expert puppeteers who add colour through their own visual interaction and very neatly manage to embody the character of the objects they are portraying. There is an art to doing this without being able to use words to articulate feelings, but Mellano and Blin manage this with some exquisite facial movements – a twitch of the eyebrow here, a minor movement of the lips there, sensuality conveyed through the flicker of an eye. And although it is the human that is animating, the watching brain somehow associates these gestures with the inanimate objects centre stage.
Given we were in the cramped cellar of Institut francaise d’Ecosse in the sumptuous architectural surroundings of Randolph Crescent, the production team made great use of the space to create really evocative lighting effects, using both floods and delicate combinations of spot lighting to pick out individual objects in a manner that made them seem alive. Or was that just my imagination running riot?
At one level it’s an intriguing (and short) piece of theatre that is precise, delicate, funny and, at times quite poignant. At another it’s just a man and a woman shuffling a few objects around with some jangly music going on in the background. It all depends on your point of view I suppose. That’s theatre for you.