I've never been to Belgium – but if this is what Belgian theatre is like, I want to live there. Eternal youth is the real star of this absurdist puppetry spectacle from the minds of Mirielle and Matthieu, two wonderfully accomplished Belgian puppeteers who bring a whole parallel universe alive before your eyes.
Set inside a magical and disturbed antique toy shop, we are treated to a glimpse of what goes on when no humans are there to watch. The twist here is that there are no conventional puppets: everything comes to life, from giant garden gnomes to blankets and ironing boards. The sheer number of props is ambitious to say the least, and yet so much is used. Every part of every prop is manipulated with such expertise that you believe every movement, as if the two puppeteers have disappeared. It's pure imagination.
Arm is such a beautifully absurd and timeless creation, you could imagine this being performed 70 years ago – and it would still be just as funny. Mirielle and Mathieu are a loveable duo, bouncing off each other like a colourful reincarnation of Laurel and Hardy (if Laurel and Hardy had puppets). Watching the opening sequence is just like watching two over-sized children play with toys, a glorious ode to playfulness which makes you envy this double-act's sustained sense of wonder. I pictured the audience going home after this show, dusting off their old action figures, and trying to remember a time when it was second nature to make them talk and fight battles in imagined worlds.
But the innocence, as ever, only lasts so long. Soon we descend into an anarchic display of wordless hammering and fighting dolls, an ill-fated dancing matador, and perhaps my favourite use of swearing-as-a-dramatic-device ever.
This is a wildly and universally appealing show; you can't help but leave beaming with joy. At the end, Mirielle & Mathieu – like the grown-up children they embody – try the audience's patience, with a bit they love to do on repeat again, and again, and again. But you'll forgive them. Their youthful abandon is infectious.