It is not so often that one comes across love dolls in a theatre play. With Maniacs, Amsterdam-based Ulrike Quade Company dives into the heart of a topic as essential as it is controversial.

Phi Nguyen is made of flesh and bones. While naked on stage, he engages in a courtship dance with Renée, his silicon doll. The public walks into the scenery to some backroom music. Some feel uneasy, other feel excited, some are  stuck somewhere in the middle.

Upon entering the room, members of the audience are given a red cardboard pouch, similar to those used in schools. It contains selfies of Phi and Renée, letters from the actor to his partner and a photo story by brilliant Benita Marcussen portraying some ambassadors of the very discreet dolls collectors’ community. The quality of the materials provided is noticeable.

Maniacs, illustration by Araso
Maniacs, illustration by Araso

More than a show, Maniacs is an outstanding research piece. The play in itself is certainly awkward at times, but the issue is extremely well addressed and delved into. Essential matters are dealt with, such as loneliness, the otherness, the notions of consent and reciprocity.

Maniacs, by Ulrike Quade Company was shown at the Théâtre Mouffetard in Paris from November 29th  to December 3rd  2016.