27 2 / 2012
The show of Raoul was something much anticipated here in Perth for the Arts Festival. Those who were most anxious for this show had already seen some of James Thiérrée’s work and were already raving about his newest show. The grandson of legendary Charlie Chaplin was in Perth to present his newest show.
Raoul is a one-man stage act which a most unique backdrop. There is little to no speaking on the part of Mr. Thiérrée who still manages to dominate the stage with dance and his comedic timing. It was unlike anything I had seen before.
The story begins with Raoul making his way through the seats and arriving on stage with a bag and little else. He attempts to make himself comfortable before noticing a dwelling, which he then starts to systematically attack. We finally receive a glimpse into the house and find Raoul (the other one) sitting quietly in his chair enjoying some classical music when this attack occurs. Raoul (the attacker) makes his way into the dwelling and a rather desperate fight ensues with Raoul (the other one).
I can already imagine your confusion. This is by all accounts a show with only one actor however Mr. Thiérrée receives assistance from stagehands at various intervals in the show though we rarely see them.
Thiérrée’s dance during the performance ranges from jerky to fluid to downright acrobatic as he utilizes the full length of the stage. It also often corresponds with his impeccable comedic timing that can only be described as slapstick and to which the audience responded enthusiastically.
Unlike the shows I have been to in Perth, Raoul was met with a full standing ovation, which lasted fully 10 minutes. This is I believe an indication of how Thiérrée captured and moved us without the use of speech as a medium, which I have found rare in such performances. He is no mime, it was not strictly a dance piece and perhaps there were moments where I had trouble grasping the full extent of the story however this made to no difference in how I interpreted it and how much I enjoyed it.
As Raoul is slowly stripped away he becomes more himself then when he started in his little nook, comfortable and secluded. By the end we watch as everything is taken from him, everything material, leaving naught but the man in what was a truly magnificent performance.