FESTIVAL OF ARTS – Raoul – Fest Theatre – 4K

By Julia Loipersberger

Absurdism and surrealism are fairly difficult concepts for me to follow at the best of times. Remove from this equation the clarifying element of dialogue, and you end up with one very confused reviewer.

I cannot really describe what Raoul, directed by and starring the incredibly talented magician of physical movement James Thiérrée, is actually about. Set in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic world, Raoul searches for and finally finds… himself, Raoul, living in a tent constructed out of alarmingly high poles. Cue an interplay where the lines of individuality are blurred and both Raouls must live out – at times together, at times apart – a night filled with nightmarish and hilarious happenings interweaving mundane household items such as pots, carpets and an armchair, with creatures from dark dreams, including an enormous and skeletal bird, a naughty gramophone and a combative cockroach. All of the above may, or may not, have actually happened during Raoul – I’m not entirely sure.

What I am certain of is that Thiérrée is an absolute wizard of physical movement. With the twitch of his little finger or the –bizarre – angling of his head, he is able to demonstrate the most subtle of emotions and characterisations. Although his acrobatic feats are nothing short of breathtaking – the image of a clownish Phantom of the Opera comes to mind when Thiérrée turns the stage lights into his own personal trapeze – Thiérrée really shines with his almost imperceptible moues such as the turning of an ankle or the twitch of an ear. Whilst there are numerous supporting characters-  including the ‘other’ Raoul and the amazing performers embodying various mythical creatures – it is clearly Thiérrée’s show in every aspect.

Raoul is a show made up of many individual elements. A stunning visual dance contribution, an invitation to a surreal fantasyland, a circus performance with clowns, a soliloquy on the nature of man… all of these things, and much, much more are brought to you in this unique performance. The only real downside is that one feels that all of this has been specifically put together to slap you in the face with an enormous helping of ‘CULTURE’ – which makes one feel quite the pretentious urban sophisticate, but does not do much more.

Raoul is not a show for everybody. It can best be described as a one-man Cirque du Soleil which meets a silent Samuel Beckett play. But for those who are impressed by absolute mastery of the human body and want to see a performance by somebody who is clearly an absolute master of their craft (whatever that craft may be) this show is not to be missed.

Kryztoff Rating    4K

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