Edinburgh Fringe 2017
“Tania has just arrived from Paris for a very special occasion: The World’s Tastiest Carrot competition! In her leather trunk, she carries her very own garden, from which a whole world is revealed… A world of Tania’s animal friends, each of them desperate for a taste of her prize carrot… The Wonderful World of Lapin! Narrated in English with French sentences from the puppets, the show is a fun and heart-warming bilingual piece of theatre, with a big surprise ending. Accessible to all non-French speakers.”
Bonjour! Tania arrives and greets everyone, and then she goes over to her huge trunk. This is no ordinary trunk for it contains her garden and many other things – and little friends! She has a charming presence and wears an orange beret that looks like the top of a carrot. This is very appropriate because this is one of the themes of the show. She unpacks and introduces us to her special friend, and star of the show, Lapin, who is a white rabbit puppet wearing a little striped hat.
Lapin has long ears and big eyes, he is a tabletop puppet resembling a large cuddly soft toy rabbit. Tania speaks to him in English and French, introducing new words in simple phrases and sentences. She speaks to Lapin and the other three animal characters and replies as them in dialogue using different voices in both languages. The storytelling, narrating and gentle humour throughout the show are a delight and hold the attention of small children – and adults. Tania repeats the names of the other animals in French as the fifty-minute show moves along seamlessly.
Recorded music accompanies parts of the story, and an interesting feature is that each animal has its own music that matches its personality, such as the sleepy snail or the playful yellow worm. The set is visually very attractive and colourful, there is a huge grassy mound with flowers growing out of it (and a few surprises), and the huge trunk and all its wonderful contents sits on top of the mound.
Tania’s mission is to share her French language through storytelling and puppetry to the young, because she believes that they learn easily when there is interactivity and it’s fun. The Wonderful World of Lapin certainly provides an entertaining show where listening and learning is enjoyable. At the end of the show Tania invites the children to come and play with a short movement and music game. One small boy at the show I attended was able to recall all the names of the four animals with perfect pronunciation, in French!
This show is also an introduction to other themes, which are important for children to begin to learn about, such as eco/nature, rain, growing plants and vegetables. Tania gives attention to detail in her story as well as her puppets and there is also an interesting learning experience when one of the animals misbehaves. Tania is a very good storyteller who is sensitive, friendly and dramatic, making this a storytelling experience with more than one dimension. And when someone does something amiss, there are consequences! This also helps draw out more French language, because the action can be understood and the new language assimilated without explanation.
The end of the story is imaginative and so creative. This is a charming bilingual family show that will entertain and delight.