Childhood memories are usually the open door to literary clichés. There is no end to relics, and those who do not fall into boredom are hardly numerous. Nathalie Sarraute knew it. To avoid the pitfalls of “I remember”, she chose the form of permanent dialogue between herself (child) and her double (adult). This double will play the role of disquiet.

On the stage of the Théâtre de Poche, we are in the presence of the two Nathalies respectively played by Anne Plumet and Marie-Madeleine Burguet. We will notice that they are almost the same age (a way of abolishing the boundaries of time); they are dressed in the same variegated fabric but the first wears a blouse, the second a dress. The decor consists of two cane chairs and these two chairs are enough to enter Nathalie’s past, this album of images devoid of logic and chronology. You will see that here only spontaneity counts.

The novelist, in an almost Proustian approach, becomes the photographer of her past and develops snapshots taken between the ages of 2 and 11. She is looking for “little bits of something still alive” that pulse “out of words.” The small room at Le Poche becomes like the dark room of memory, “camera obscura” of the memory of the author of Tropismes. The double is there to put things back in place but not necessarily to set the record straight, he is the reasonable side of what is playing out before us, the one who questions the narrator: “Why do you say that, why do you speak “chirps” when there were none, why, why?…”

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The double jokes about “the beautiful memories”; he constantly tracks down clichés and artificial projections; in short, he monitors the author, corrects him, prevents him from letting himself go. We listen almost religiously to the story of little Nathalie/Natasha who was tossed between Russia (her native country), Switzerland and France. The child travels between his father Ilya and his mother (separated very early), between Véra, his father’s companion, and Kolia, his mother’s companion. There will be the figure of Lili, the half-sister, daughter of Véra and her father. Very beautiful moment when Nathalie/Anne Plumet describes this Luxembourg garden that she discovered with her father: the Guignol, the swings, the wooden horses…

Soberly directed by Tristan Le Doze, the two actresses give flesh to the destiny of Nathalie, future writer. They cross or rather intertwine, navigate between past and present. Childhood (written at age 83), it is also and above all the appearance of words through spelling, dictation, recitation, the first French homework.

Nathalie tells us, it’s touching, that she loved dictation and recitation, that she always liked being the first in class, that one of her first readings was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Nouveau Roman novelist loved, in fact, nothing other than academic work, loved to do her evening homework in beautiful old style. Freud said that all autobiography is false. This is surely true. What matters is that it rings true. This theatrical performance confirms it.

Childhood, at the Théâtre de Poche (Paris 6th). Such. : 01 45 44 50 21.