REVIEW: Showmanship (C Royale) ★★★★

I’ve seen Lucy Roslyn in performance a few times: The People Versus John Haynes; a rehearsed read of the first instalment of stories set in Boon & Dogget’s circus, Goody; and now Showmanship, the second in the four episode series.

It’s clear from everything I’ve watched previously, Ms Roslyn is truly exceptional at physical characterisation. Her ability to capture the manic John Haynes on death row, to playing a chimpanzee in Goody; the specificity and detail that she inhabits within the portrayal of the character is immediately hypnotic and masterful and Showmanship is no exception.

Its not without irony that this play, which Roslyn has also written, appears to be about illusion and perception, detailing how the central character learns to manipulate those who sit before her in her guise as fortune teller and clairvoyant. The hard-edged Myra is jaded by her decades of life experience and need to keep her head above water in an increasingly challenging world as a single woman in the 1930s. She is an old soul, exotic and charming; funny and engaging but the signposts to something darker are quickly evident.

Showmanship begins as the name would suggest. As the story unfolds we discover that ultimately this is a play about love, grief and regret. You may start hypnotised by Myra’s stories of living on the edge, being an exotic dancer, learning her trade for drawing people in with the occult, leveraging her client’s tells, communing with the dead, but eventually her exterior starts to peel away and we are taken on a journey of despair where Myra cannot free herself of her past choices and the ghosts in her own heart. And all is presented brilliantly by Ms Roslyn through a captivating physical language.

Lucy is hugely talented and a joy to watch and I am very much looking forward to the next instalment at Boon & Doggett’s.

Reviewed by Lou-Lou Mason

Lou-Lou is a director, copywriter and dramaturg. Her current show Fallout by Serena Haywood, starring Katie Richardson is at Free Fringe: Laughing Horse @ The Phoenix, 2:45 daily.


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