Lyn Gardner - The Guardian (UK)
A man's home can be his castle, but it can also be a prison, as is proved in this latest piece from James Thiérrée, the French-born grandson of Charlie Chaplin, and a theatrical magician who has always skipped nimbly along the tightrope between circus, dance and theatre. Raoul begins with the eponymous hero returning home to his makeshift shack, to discover that there's someone else in his place. But is the doppelganger more Raoul than Raoul himself? Who is the real Raoul?
Not so much a show as a 75-minute existential crisis, this (almost) one–man production may lack the thrilling sweep and excitement of Thiérrée's previous pieces, but its mixture of absurdist playfulness would have Lewis Carroll on his feet. This is a delightful show full of teapots that answer back, clothes with a mind of their own and candles that won't snuff. There are glorious junkyard inventions, including an umbrella jellyfish, a substantial but almost ghost-like elephant with a wiggly tail, and a giant metal fish too large to fit into any bowl.
But there is something darker and more panic-stricken: the silent scream of "Who am I?" that lends this show its lonely heart and philosophical centre. Raoul is a man who has become a shadow of himself, who, when he looks in the mirror, discovers someone else there. He might tell the mirror off, but there is real terror, too.
By the end, Raoul has lost his home, his possessions and almost his mind, and yet he flies across the stage a free man, soaring into the auditorium to grasp our hands.
There is perhaps a touch too much French whimsy here, but it is always undercut by the sheer invention of a show whose low-tech, sailcloth design is as convincing as any computer-generated special effects, and Thiérrée's own extraordinary physical prowess, which allows him to tie his body in knots and turn himself into a human spinning top.