She is sensual, beautiful and listens breathlessly to his stories. She does not demand expensive gifts nor does she argue about chores. In all aspects she is his ideal partner, though there is something peculiar about their relationship. Renée is a doll, a real doll, ordered from the internet. He has scrolled through the menus, selected and moulded her into his ideal woman.
The adventure starts when she arrives in a large wooden box. Her skin made from silicones contains dimples and holes. The doll heats up, bends, dents and softly gives way to his movements. He whispers and talks to her.
The factory in which Renée was made delivers a dozen real dolls per day to clients all over the world. Internet forums share tips and tricks on how to best manipulate and preserve the doll as well as how the doll can participate in one’s social life. Actor Phi Nguyen selects and constructs his real doll on the internet and explores the possibilities and limitations of building a relationship with a lifelike doll.
Director & Concept: Ulrike Quade
Actor: Phi Nguyen
Text: Simone van Saarloos
Dramaturgy: Marit Grimstad Eggen
Video: Richard Janssen & Virginie Surdej
Sound Design: Richard Janssen
Lighting & Set Design: Floriaan Ganzevoort
Costume design: Jacqueline Steijlen
Assistant director: Floor van Lissa
Assistant lighting design: Paul Romkes
Set building: Hilko Uil
Dogmask: Matt Jackson
Technician: Niels Runderkamp
Coproduction of Ulrike Quade Company and Nordland Visual Theatre (Figurteatret i Nordland). This performance is made with support of the Dutch Performing Arts Fund & the Municipality of Amsterdam.
HET PAROOL ****
You need to flash twice with your eyes when you enter the theatre. It’s only then that you realize that Phi Nguyen is not on stage with a real, naked woman, but with a doll. (…) Ulrike Quade reflects in different ways on the relationship between this young man and his doll. In physical scenes (…) via video projections.
Simone van Saarloos wrote beautiful observations, cutting comparisons that give us insight in the psychology of the character. Through different channels we are addressed to our own prejudices. And we are subtly challenged to go beyond them. (…) And exactly that illustrates what makes this performance so powerful. This person is not crazy, he’s not a maniac.
Mirjam van der Linden
The opening of Maniacs by Ulrike Quade is the performance in a nutshell. Theatre is voyeuristic, but especially here! (…) Reality and fantasy are completely mixed up (…).With beautiful video images (…) and texts by philosopher Simone van Saarloos, Quade explores the issue whether unreal is also real.
The play questions our experience of human happiness and loneliness […] it’s a frightening realistic fairytale, which is (luckily) performed with humor by Phi […] The presence of the sex doll, both subject and object in this performance, creates transparant and voyeuristic theatre: the audience looks at the life of a credible lunatic […] there being such instances of loneliness and obsession is indeed worrying and this performance addresses it beautifully.”