Arm – Mireille & Mathieu

Puppetry brings a junk-yard sale to life as this double act create a riotous hour of play

★★★
dance review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Arm - Mireille & Mathieu
Published 12 Aug 2017

Tattered dolls and cuddly toys are scattered around the room, inanimate until they grab the hungry attention of double act Mireille and Mathieu. Performing in a mixture of English, French and garbled nonsense, these riotous performers are just big kids.

Their attention spins from one toy to the next, inventing stories that rip the objects from their original context. Babies box;Barbie and Ken get mixed up in a futuristic, Biblical fable; and mischievous rabbits play Knock-Down-Ginger.

Aside from a misplaced phallic joke, the childish delight the pair instill ripples across the audience. The speed with which they change story, power structure and character keeps the energy high throughout.

Mireille and Mathieu don’t hide their bodies like many puppeteers. They are as flexible, malleable and prone to manipulation as the toys they control.

The pair race to catch up with each other and make us laugh even more. Mireille turns the ironing board into a horse—entirely believably—until Mathieu gets distracted by a bin lid and the horse is discarded, its former use redundant. They communicate through their puppetry rather than directly in coversation, their domestics turning into childish tiffs. The duo aren’t afraid to be brutal with each other either, thumping and rolling their way across the stage.

Top-notch tech isn’t needed to transport the audience in Arm, only a leap of imagination. At the end of this unruly performance, it seems appropriate that the toys get a round of applause too.