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Tuesday night saw the premiere at the Barbican Theatre of James Thiérrée’s new work, Raoul. I should really have blogged about this yesterday but I’ve only just picked my jaw off of the floor!
The virtuosity of this one man (or is it?) show has to be seen to be believed. He has been variously described as an acrobat, a clown, a poet and a magician. Raoul showcases all these aspects to Thiérrée’s performance and his skill blends them into a dystopian narrative where Raoul confronts his many demons. His world is wonderfully realised on stage and the set and lighting all have their part to play in the performance.
Thiérrée’s physical theatre may draw many references to his familial connections. His grandfather was Charlie Chaplin and his parents work as Le Cirque Invisible, who performed earlier this year at the Southbank Centre. In Raoul, he mixes his own miming and comic performing with spectacular puppets. A ghostly elephant, a metallic crayfish and a huge jellyfish all pass through Raoul imaginings. There is also a textile fish which was reminiscent of the fish from The Singing Ringing Tree, but that only added to the other-worldly atmosphere.
The work is virtually silent but the accompanying music interprets the movement and moods perfectly. I loved the Tarif de Haidouks interpretation. When the performance finished with some stunning acrobatic wire work it received a hugely deserved standing ovation.
The show continues at the Barbican until October 24 and is suitable for older children as well as adults. At the time of writing, tickets are still available.