Le nom sur le bout de la langue (The name on the tip of the tongue)


From the moment Marion Lahmer enters the room from the back door and slowly walks through the stage, beautifully dressed in a white gown and covered by a white veil, exquisitely singing a strange lullaby, the entire audience is immediately hooked onto Colbrune’s every word.

As she removes her veil, her face becomes more and more stunning as she begins to introduce us to the story. Colbrune is an embroiderer who lives in the 9th century in Normandy. Her voice becomes very soft as she talks about Jeûne, a tailor whom she’s fallen in love with simply by contemplating him from the other side of the river.

The entire story, with different characters, countless actions, and various places all come to life through her only voice. Her voice and speech are striking. Not only does she sing like an angel but her speaking voice has greater depth, a bit husky at times, always very grasping. Her recital of the French contemporary writer Pascal Quignard’s tale is on spot. The repetitions in the text are remarkably well interpreted. Moreover, her postures and most importantly her gaze are instrumented with precision. With each posture comes a different character, leaving absolutely no doubt to as what is happening on stage even though the entire tale unravels for the most part in one’s imagination.

One day Colbrune bravely declares her love to Jeûne, who agrees to marry her at one condition: that she replicates the sumptuously embroidered belt that he is wearing. The promise is made. Day and night, Colbrune tries in vain to sow the belt. One night, a lord passing through the village visits her in quest of food and drink, realises he has a similar belt hanging from his horse. He goes back outside to retrieve it and Colbrune compares it with Jeûne’s belt: they are perfectly identical. Colbrune is desperate. The lord agrees to give it to her one condition: the young woman must remember his name. If in a year’s time, she forgets his name, she will belong to him. Months go by and his name… remains on the tip of her tongue.

The actress is immensely persuasive in her moments of despair that swings along the line of utter madness. The emotions grasp the audience until the end of the story. The play is beautifully accompanied by Matteo Pastorino playing his bass clarinet on stage reflecting the importance of music and a polyphonic narrative in the work of Pascal Quignard. The lights and the minimalistic staging along with all of the above allows the audience to truly access the magic of theatre. In other words, the whole show is orchestrated with perfection.