Ewen Coleman - Dominion Post
Like his grandfather Charlie Chaplin before him, James Thierree is a master of expressing actions and emotions through the physicality of his body unaided by words.
In his latest show, Raoul, he again shows off his skills and abilities aided by a creative production team that supports him with an amazing lighting, sound, music and set design as well as some awesome puppets.
Having seen him here in 2004 (The Junebug Symphony) and 2006 (Bright Abyss), Raoul appears darker and deeper than these shows but still with the theatrical magic and sheer inventiveness and physicality that Thierree brings to his shows. It is also more focused on Thierree the individual than in his previous shows.
Raoul arrives on stage and attempts to get into his fortress- like home made of large metal bars. Having then violently broken in, his fight is by no means over as he tries to carry on a normal life, listening to music and reading a book, but is continually interrupted by inanimate objects trying to attack him.
Then there is a whole range of weird and wonderful creatures that come to visit - such as a massive Mexican walking fish that acts like a pet dog, a strange silverfish, a ballet-dancing jellyfish and a life- sized elephant (all created by Thierree's mother, Victoria Chaplin).
Yet the show is not all gothic, as there are many moments of humour that come through.
And it is very spectacular in parts - the opening and closing in particular are quite something in the way they combine the actions of Thierree with lighting, sound and the deconstruction and reconstruction of the set.
But overall the show is far too long, with as many lows as there are highs. There is only so much than can be done with Chaplinesque-type movement from the Ministry of Silly Walks and, when it is used continuously to transition one section of the show to the next, it becomes boring and tedious. Nevertheless the opening night audience gave Thierree a standing ovation, which he no doubt deserved.