Monday, 3 April 2017

"The Ringmaster" by Tom Proffitt
Nottingham New Theatre.
Going to see the plays in the Spring Fringe Season at the Nottingham New Theatre is always a little different. Why? because these plays are written by the students, and not only that, I know nothing of the plays, so unable to pre-empt anything.
"The Ringmaster" is about three characters, Charlie The Clown (Daniel Morris), Jasper, the Ringmaster, (Matteo Bagiani) and the young girl (Isabelle Cadwallader), three actors I don't think I've seen before, but very charismatic as they turn out.
Charlie and Jasper both tell very different tales of how the circus acts changed, for what could be to someone's disadvantage.
We hear how Charlie went from throwing custard pies to being the high wire act, but whose idea was this really? Charlie's or Jasper's? Was it professional suicide or a touch of jealousy from Jasper who saw Charlie as the real star of the circus?
Told from a different perspective by the young girl who loved the circus and saw Charlie as the highlight of the circus. She though adds more questions to the pot. Did Charlie give up clowning to be a deep sea diver, or did he die in the sawdust in the big ring?
Many questions but no definitive answers are given, leaving the viewer to make up their own mind.
Daniel played Charlie as a ball of nervous energy, the hand shaking as he tells of how Jasper is hailed as a hero from all who meet him. But Charlie seems to be the one forced into the high wire decision. Maybe this was what was causing the nervousness?
Jasper, chain smoking his cigars and drinking wine, on the other hand seemed to insinuate that this very dangerous feat was all the brain child of Charlie who thought that custard pie throwing was all old hat and the circus needed to add danger to survive the onslaught of the movies and TV.
Isabelle was very convincing as a young excitable girl, forever wanting to see the circus, and especially her favourite clown, even willing to skip school to do this.
Directed and written by Tom Proffitt, he managed to bring out of the actors quite a mature sense of timing, not afraid to leave gaps in the script to build a tension. Nat Henderson was Assistant Director
Produced by Ed Eggleton, assisted by Harry Pavlou, they have helped produce a very interesting piece of Fringe Theatre.
The set was almost minimal, apart from a wire strung above the performance area and a table with a radio, teapot, cigar case and ashtray. Charlie had his own case with tools of the trade and the young girl's backpack.
You didn't need more than that because the set wasn't integral to the storyline, but what was there was designed by Jamie Drew. Sometimes less is more.
The occasional sound effect, like the drum rolls and the music created all then images in your mind you needed and the lighting separated the three monologues. Technical Director was Chris Trueman with the Lighting Designer being Joanne Blunt.
What I liked about this piece of theatre is that there is no right or wrong ending and is subjective to the mind of the audience member. it means that the audience will go away thinking about the play and discussing what they came to decide, also giving rise to debate.

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