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Théâtre de Toone
21 Petite rue des Bouchers
+ 32 (0) 25135486
Just a stone’s throw from the Grand Place lies another treasure that is a bit more discreet but just as loved by the inhabitants of Brussels. The Théâtre de Toone has occupied this spot since 1804, at the corner of Impasse Schuddeveld and Impasse Sainte-Pétronille, two tiny streets that lead to it from either side. So come on in!
Toone was first set up as a small café (known locally as "estaminets") where you could have a beer* and buy tobacco**. The small street piqued my curiosity, so I thought “why not?” I crossed the threshold into a room with an old-style decor.
Earthen floor tiles, wooden benches, ceiling beams... and finger puppets adorning the walls. I joined a group of friends and tried a Kwak*, served in its traditional clepsydra glass. The atmosphere was welcoming, with spiralling smoke and laughter filling the air, and the waitress encouraging us to see the play scheduled that evening.
I climbed a few steps and stood gazing at the seats covered in multi-coloured cushions, the many photos of famous people on the ceiling and the puppet stage in front of me. And then the show began. Macbeth à la Brussels, with a mix of Belgian and English accents. The Ketje, a Brussels street urchin with a baseball cap firmly secured to his head, was the star of this hilarious, at times disconcerting but highly original show. At the interval I took a look around the museum and chatted with Nicols Géal, a puppeteer with the Toone theatre since 2003. All in all I had a wonderful evening and walked away feeling I had had a little taste of the city’s eternal soul.
* Alcoholic beverages should be consumed in moderation. Please drink responsibly.
** Smoking seriously damages health. Smoking kills.
I teach tennis in the city and also write about culture for a number of publications. I love to travel and meet people. My city? It's an improv concert in a down-to-earth bar, an exhibition built on a work site, a play performed in the heart of the old city... My little extra: combining sport and culture!