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Is Raymond Goethals Alive ? [February 25th, 2012 KVS Brussels]

Raymond Soccer Tactics Raymond Goethals

Yesterday we went to the premiere in KVS of a theater play depicturing the legendary soccer trainer Raymond Goethals. Raymond is nothing less than an icon for soccer lovers in Belgium - a bit like Johan Cruyf in the Netherlands and Barcelona - perhaps of a bit less epic proportions. Rayond had theories about just about everything in soccer and life, he spoke a typical Brussels mix of French and Flemish, and he could tell stories which would captivate everyone. A interview with Raymond always provided an unexpected insight, plenty of opinions and passion, and foremost: energy.

Bringing such a personality to life on a theater stage is not easy. Josse De Pauw accepted the challenge in this 90 minute solo performance which premiered yesterday and will play in the KVS Brussels for the next 14 days. And he did very well - switching from Flemish to French and back, telling stories and postulating theories.

But did Josse become Raymond ? Did he bring the icon back to life ?

No, not really. To achieve that rare goal, the Raymond-energy level was missing - at no moment did he fulminate like the great trainer did in almost every interview. No cigarette hanging from his lips. No nervous gesturing. Translating every sentence from Flemish to French and the way around is not the same as speaking like a Brussels Ket - it's a great achievement for the actor to be able to make the story flow while basically stating every sentence twice, but it slows down the story line and does not mimick how Raymond was talking away.

The closest Josse came to be Raymond was when he described the epic match of the Belgian Red Devils against the USSR during the Wold Championship in Mexico in 1986. At that moment, he was Raymond. For just a few minutes. During the rest of the theater play he tried, and did well, but didn't get there quite. Close but no cigar.

So... it is definitely worthwhile to go and see the play, and enjoy the performance from Josse - but do come with realistic expectations: no one will ever bring Raymond back !

Picture credits (soccer strategy board): Els Van de Kerckhove