Scaramouche Jones ★★★ Ginger Quiff Media (online) | Mar 26 - Apr 11, 2021


Justin Butcher's Scaramouche Jones is a 100 minute monologue, performed here by Shane Richie. The protagonist recounts his life-story from his birth in Trinidad through a myriad of adventures throughout the world. These include Scaramouche spending many years travelling with a Senegalese snake charmer whose reptile, named 'Benjamin Disraeli,' manages to escape during the coronation of Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa; this is typical of the inexplicable serendipity of the narrative. During his time as a gravedigger in a Nazi concentration camp, Scaramouche rather bizarrely finds his vocation as a clown by entertaining children awaiting execution and parodying their imminent slaughter. When he arrives in London in 1951 he finally laughs for the first time in his life and discovers his calling as a white-faced, but sour, clown. This picaresque form might be made to work, but here the long sentences feel as if they would be better suited to the page rather than the voice. Is it that the writing lacks humour and poetry or is it the delivery? The story brings Voltaire's Candide to mind, but it lacks the innate optimism of that hero or a Doctor Pangloss. Richie's best scene is at the Nuremberg Trial where, paradoxically, he is genuinely funny. Director Ian Talbot sets everything in an unusual, crumpled red foil dressing room nicely designed by Andrew Exeter and littered with red balloons. "Fifty years to make the clown, fifty years to play the clown" seems to be the mantra of this strange, flawed yet fascinating piece.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Bonnie Britain.

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