Raoul is an absurdist funny theater production consisting of only two performers. Thiérrée is Raoul, a man without beginning or end, who tumbles through a series of utopian fantasies where acrobatics, mysterious transformations, music and dance collide – a world which is at once recognisable and yet utterly alien.
The main character, and only acting role, Raoul is at a constant battle with his inner demons and an almost alter ego that seem hell-bent on destroying his home and himself. James Thiérrée who performed the role and also directed the entire performance was able to make decisive acting decisions when developing this character and enabling him to craft the rest of the play around it. Having the power over these design roles were able to see through techniques such as the music reacting to his body movement that this whole world Thiérrée has created is a representation of Raoul’s imagination.
Raoul opens with a crescendo of falling pipes as the stage literally comes down around the main character.
This is a pivotal moment in the play as we start to get an understanding of the staging. Raoul has an interesting way of making the set deteriorating as the scenes go by. This is really important to understanding the meaning of the play as the staging not only sets boundaries of Raoul’s being. We see the in the beginning the character almost trapped in his home harmlessly reading a book then after an hour and half he’s flying around the stage unconstrained by the protection of his home. This slowly builds up as the stage falls down each time Raoul begins to understand more and has greater control over world he’s within. This can be seen through his command over the sound and lighting then finally the walls of the stage themselves. These techniques really give the over feeling of not only adventure but the character evolving with the stage they sort of live and breath together.
The sound technician was brilliantly synced with Thiérrée for the most part of his performance; whilst a lot of the cues were subtle and/or very fast the music was well fitted and added to not only the atmosphere but a lot of the slapstick humour that was present throughout the show. When coupled with a excellent lighting those two aspects worked really well together.
Although the audience responded quite well throughout it was disappointed that some members disregarded the rest of us and obnoxiously laughing and carrying on. It was interesting to see how the audience reacted when the spotlight was turned on them during scenes with the mirror and Raoul acknowledged the existence of the audience.
This show really has a strong message buried deep under the humour and weirdness as I perceived it represented how blockades and barriers that you setup in your mind can limit your life, it shows how only your yourself can tear these barriers down in order to set yourself free from those burdens. If that is true then the performance really carries a fantastic message to an audience who can understand that there’s more the theatre than jokes and story. I think and hope that this was a direction that Thiérrée was getting towards.
Overall I find the experience a fantastic representation why theatre can entertain you on any different levels. James Thiérrée is a master at acting in the absurd slapstick way and an equally good directing allowing this show to flow almost seamlessly through the hour and forty minutes.
I give a review score of: 9/10