Sitting on a yurt covered with snow and animal skins, Youma Vlozomir (Ariana-Suelen Rivoire), 14 years old and deaf, lives in the imaginary village of Okionuk, in the Paliouquie region, in the north of the globe. Gurven, her friend (Jérôme Kircher), translates the story of her people which she tells in sign language. He lived peacefully until the arrival of a man in black boots with his black truck, selling steam stoves, bathtubs, raclettes and other cars.

The Paliouks lack everything and have no money, but before the “strange merchant” came, they didn’t need anything. The trader accepts the words as currency. At first, the villagers “get rid” of those who seem superfluous and useless to them. Once given, they no longer have the right to pronounce them. Beware of those who transgress the rule!

Whatever the danger, the new consumers favor material goods to the detriment of the human. They will pay a heavy price. Viggo, Youma’s grandfather, a sign language teacher, his granddaughter herself and their friends, the twin brothers Tannpajut, refuse to sacrifice their vocabulary and forget their souls. They are then considered outcasts. Conflicts break out.

A Franco-Swiss author, Léonore Confino had already distinguished herself with original works (Ring, Le Poisson belge, etc.) inspired by her experiences. The Village of the Deaf (Actes Sud, 2023) is perhaps the one that required the most imagination from him. She delivers a fable about the power of language that identifies us and forges our identity. It reminds us that it is a universal and irreplaceable heritage treasure that makes it possible to unite or disunite. Trapped in a society greedy for possessions, the inhabitants of Okionuk lose the habit of meeting and communicating, no longer live. The more they accumulate, the more they become impoverished.

Léonore Confino has created an unreal world, although, with its own language – very poetic – to deal with essential values, a richness that has nothing to do with progress. As usual, she called on the director Catherine Schaub to illustrate her parable. In sweaters and boots – it’s minus 40 degrees in the isolated region of Youma – Ariana-Suelen Rivoire and Jérôme Kircher seem to have come out of a family tale. Narrators, they accomplish their mission brilliantly. Namely: to remember, without judging, that human beings can sometimes take the wrong path. A relevant illustration of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s phrase: “ You can only see clearly with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye. »

The Village of the deaf, at the Théâtre du Rond-Point (Paris 8th), until April 23. Loc. : 01 44 95 98 21.