RAOUL – ALISTAIR MACKENZIE
Raoul was a brilliant piece of absurdist and physical theatre performed by James Thierree, Charlie Chaplin’s grandson. I went to see it at the Regal Theatre on the 26th of February and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it was because there was so much to relate to in everyday life. He is Everyman, we see ourselves in him. We also strain with objects, have problems getting dressed, finding a comfortable position to sleep, sit, read…….he is humanity.
The themes and issues of Raoul are ones of humour, confinement and escapism. We don’t leave Raoul sobbing our hearts out or howling in grief for the man, we leave thinking of what a vibrant and unique performance that was and what talents the man has. A major theme in the play is humour. This is explored throughout the whole play and - Raoul uses his comedic self to make us laugh even when he is in despair. For example when he couldn’t get comfortable to read a book he made it as if it seemed impossible for him to ever get comfortable and we can relate to this for all of us have experienced this. Raoul is most humorous because we could see ourselves having those same problems and annoying struggles in life. Is the music in his head? Are the animals part of his subconscious? WHO CARES! The experience is more than the rational understanding. You could be three or eighty five and you would have still found the play humorous and exciting.
Confinement was also a major issue in the play as Raoul was confined by his house and couldn’t escape. It was almost as if he was a prisoner in his own house. He also became scared of his house how it shook and screeched. However this too could all have been in Raoul’s mind. Escapism is what Raoul needed most and at the end of the play when everything that he ever had was gone it symbolised a sense of freedom. Raoul had been freed from his demons -himself, his house and his everyday struggles.
Raoul through movement and facial expression brought me closer to him than any other way of communication. The excellence was in the detail. He is not scared of silence and stillness. The piece had a variety of rhythm and pace – at one moment he sprinted up to the top of his house and then in slow motion he fell from metres above so elegantly and gracefully. It is his ability to be so precise – like when he transformed into the horse or monkey- which is spellbinding.
I’m not sure we ever find all the answers but the success of this production doesn’t lie so much in its meaning as in its execution. There is no “text” in the literary sense, no written script of lines to learn but there is a physical genius whose images are scorched on our minds for a long time to come.