Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Back, "Raoul"

We, the collectively happy audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre this evening, Friday, November 05, 2010, beg your attention and consideration, and exhort you to get up off your tuckass and go see “Raoul.”

Tonight we saw an extraordinary piece of theatre. I don’t even know how to describe what James Thiérée and his company, Compagnie du Hanneton, did tonight on the BAM Harvey stage. The set we saw on entering the theatre was fascinating, resembling torn sails at odd angles. We wondered if the performance would be a modern French take on Moby Dick or some other seafaring tale.

“The curtain rose” does not apply here. Those sails/curtains flew gymnastically this way and that. The very elements of scenery of “Raoul” are as athletic as their master, Thiérée. From the moment we see him searching and calling for Raoul were wonder just how many James Thiérées there could be. His acrobatic dance is virile, aggressive, he falls back in slow motion and we know these 80 minutes will continue to thrill.

Raoul,” if it is about anything, may be about the duality of man. Or may be not. Which Raoul are we seeing? Who does he search for? Don’t worry, you needn’t think too hard. Whatever “Raoul” may mean, it is thrilling and amazing and awe-inspiring. Without ever seeing Thiérée “do” Charlie Chaplin, there are moments when we feel Chaplin moving through Thiérée’s body and mind. And Buster Keaton. And Gene Kelly. And – this is probably just me – Burt Lancaster in his more acrobatic performances in “Flame and the Arrow” and “The Crimson Pirate.”

James Thiérée is an acrobat, an actor, a dancer, a storyteller, and a master of his own body – not to mention the attention and hearts of his audience. He rules the world onstage, the articles in Raoul’s hut, the sea creatures that intrude on his solitude, the hovel that falls to pieces and clatters and flies into the starry sky and sings like the pipes of a cathedral organ.

We laugh in delight, we gasp in fear and surprise, and we all swear to tell our friends all about this amazing show because we wish everyone to be as enthralled and excited as we are. As one, the BAM audience rose to applaud when the piece ended with all its storytellers still in one piece. Monsieur Thiérée's Compagnie du Hanneton must sure love him, because his life is in their hands through every performance.

Raoul” plays and leaps and tumbles and laughs and sings through Sunday 14th November at BAM. There is nothing like this, so to see anything like “Raoul,” you must go to BAM this week. Your footsteps will lift you ever so slightly off the ground once you do.

Here’s a taste:

(And by the way, this is the weekend to “fall back” – that is, when you get home Saturday night, set the clock back an hour so you can sleep in Sunday and not be late!)

~ Molly Matera, signing off so I can watch Thiérée, elephants, floating jellyfish, and horses in my mind’s eye. Or buy another ticket so I can see “Raoul” again this week…..

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