As can be expected from any Fringe show at the Nottingham New Theatre, Tom Proffitt’s Ringmaster has all the makings for a new and experimental play. A play in three parts, each devoted to a singular character, the plot concerns itself with three lives surrounding the tragic death of Charlie the Clown, and each one’s particular reactions leading up to, and during the event.

At times the play seems somewhat disjointed; dividing it up so individually can often disconnect the plot of the play, making it feel fractured. There was a feeling as though not everything was quite connected – even if this was the intention of the playwright, there was certainly a feeling that the three stories could have merged more smoothly in order for the audience to keep track.

”Not only this, but the breaking of the fourth wall then created through the round was extremely effective in getting the audience to both feel slightly uncomfortable, and therefore somewhat intrigued”

What did stand out however, was the use of the round. A difficult form to perfect, the lighting and set up of the entire play was done to nothing less than perfection. Mirroring a circus, the actors played to the audience in the round with a natural ease, keeping our attention at all times. Not only this, but the breaking of the fourth wall then created through the round was extremely effective in getting the audience to both feel slightly uncomfortable, and therefore somewhat intrigued as to what each character would do next. There has to be praise given to Proffitt as the director, and his three actors, for accomplishing a feat that can so often go wrong.

The role of Charlie requires a brave actor; with his long monologue, Daniel Morris provides us with a wide range of skills, from his ever-changing physicality, to his mimicking voices – he manages to pull off the part well. At times, his lines felt rushed, even in some of the parts that required a slower pace. However, his clever manoeuvring of the stage, and his successful breaking of the forth wall, provide us with a great portrayal of a determined part.

”The real gift in her performance was the lowering of pitch in her voice, contrasting to her higher, child-like pitch throughout her excited monologue”

Isabelle Cadwallader plays The Young One to a sophisticated degree, bringing in a childishness that separates her from the other characters nicely, giving her just the right amount of naivety one would expect of a character so young. However, the real gift in her performance was the lowering of pitch in her voice, contrasting to her higher, child-like pitch throughout her excited monologue. Cadwallader brought us back to reality, using a lower pitch, towards the end of her part.

”All three of the actors were given a difficult part to work with, and Bagiani showed us a high degree of professionalism and a wide range of acting skills”

Matteo Bagiani played Jasper, the ring master. Although at times the performance seemed nervous, he soon found the character. The best part about his performance was by far his physical gestures demonstrated throughout his part of the play. All three of the actors were given a difficult part to work with, and Bagiani showed us a high degree of professionalism and a wide range of acting skills, despite his initial nervousness.

Overall, the play is unusual, interesting and has a contemporary feel, and with a little work it has the elements to become something new and exciting. The Ringmaster is indeed a great addition to the New Theatre’s Fringe Season.

7/10 – Great show but room for improvement

Isobel Davidson

Image Courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre

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