It’s 11pm on Millennium Eve. The ancient clown, Scaramouche Jones, has given his last performance and retires to his dressing room to wait alone for the stroke of midnight – and his own centenary.
Reflecting on the extraordinary fortunes of his life, his journey spans the furthest reaches of crumbling empires and the darkest episodes of the 20th century in his quest for a father and a homeland. He strips away his seven comic masks and reveals the heart buried deep within: his final confession.
By turns bizarre, comic, epic, tragic – laced with the consummate wit of the circus clown – his tale unfolds as an enchanting fable of poignancy and laughter. “Powerful, imaginative and marvellously written . . . an extraordinary and original creation” – Sir Paul Scofield
by Justin Butcher
Directed by Braydon Dowler-Coltman
Stage Managed by Candice Charney
Production Assistance by Emma Wilmott
Produced by Wayne Paquette
Photography and Promotion Design by dbphotographics.ca
is proud to present
at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival
Campus Saint Jean’s Auditorium
REVIEWS for Scaramouche Jones
“Extraordinary solo piece by Justin Butcher … hilarious, picaresque and terrifying.”
John Peter, The Sunday Times
“Justin Butcher’s fascinating, poignant, funny play”
Jeremy Kingston, The Times
“Justin Butcher’s gloriously elegiac prose … reverberates in the memory”
Sophie Gorman, Irish Independent
“Unique … stunning … a new kind of theatre”
Karen Joyner, Metro
“Butcher’s use of language is sensational … every line dances … like dynamite …”
Vicky Frost, Bristol Evening Post
The Edmonton Fringe Reviews:
The Edmonton Journal by Liz Nicholls
“God, what a day!” An ancient clown shuffles offstage and toward us. If his voice sounds a little dusty, it’s because he hasn’t spoken in 50 years. It’ll get a lot of practice in the 90 minutes to follow.
In this wildly ambitious solo piece — monologue? play? fantasia? — by British writer/actor Justin Butcher, Scaramouche Jones, who turns 100 tonight at midnight, is moved to tell us the story of his long life on the last night of it. This is this performance, the epilogue. “As I contemplate my imminent departure…”
He was born, Scaramouche tells us, at midnight “on the cusp of two centuries,” and he will depart, a century later, New Year’s Eve 1999. Exotic adventures, to put it mildly, intervene.
What happens is a test case for yarn-spinning in theatre, and for the solo performers who undertake the kind of theatre magic that makes you believe. Against all the odds. And Robert Benz, the charismatic star of Braydon Dowler-Coltman’s Blarney production, is a performer to reckon with.
Scaramouche retraces his life back to the Trinidad whorehouse where his mother, struck by the exceptional whiteness of his face, nicknames him. He’s orphaned, sold to an Arab slave trader, indentured to a snake-charmer in Senegal, rescued from a dungeon by a lecherous Italian prince, adopted by Gypsies in Mussolini’s Italy, married to a 12-year-old, assigned grave-digger duty in a Nazi death camp, tried in Nuremberg. That’s before the “50 years of buffoonery” in England.
What Scaramouche is palming off as his own story, in his perfumed, extravagant poetic style, is the history of the 20th century — its beauty and brutality, the terrible links between the new world and the old, the rise of fascism, the fate of refugees flung hither and yon through the world. Characters are summoned, and vanish into the mists.
And somehow Benz, with his impish grin, his sonorous voice with its gallery of accents, his compelling presence onstage, persuades you that this history is the memoir of a man. This is theatre seduction. The clever production, which positions the show somewhere between a dream, a fantasy and reality, doesn’t quite pull it off, start to finish. There are moments, later in the show, when it slips and falters. But the attempt itself, by a fine actor, is a crazy and wonderful thing.
— Liz Nicholls
• 3.5 stars
By Jacquelin Gregoire
Scaramouche Jones (Robert Benz) is not your typical clown. In fact, he laughs only once in the first 50 years of his life. But that doesn’t stop him from bringing joy to others, even in the most dire situations. This 80-minute monologue tells the baffling story of a retired clown, from being raised by gypsies to working as a grave digger in a Nazi death camp. An interest in history and a good attention span are required to appreciate the entire rendition in all it’s poetic glory. But Benz is a skilled actor.
Meet the Company
Braydon Dowler-Coltman – Director
Braydon is an Edmonton-based theatre artist. Select theatre credits include: Subway Circus (Blarney Productions), Burning Bluebeard (Edmonton Actor’s Theatre), That’s Danger! (AWHC), Passion Play (Wild Side Productions), Tarzan (Broadway Live), Macbeth (University of Alberta), Bloody Poetry, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Blood Wedding (Studio Theatre), A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan, Oliver!, The Pillowman (Citadel Theatre), and a co-written/performed piece: A Perspective on Something Important (Edmonton Fringe). Braydon received a BFA in Acting at the University of Alberta. He can be seen next year in the world premiere of Fortune Falls, Catalyst Theatre’s new creation at Alberta Theatre Projects and the Citadel Theatre, and in the return of the Sterling recognized production of Burning Bluebeard.
Candice Charney – Stage Manager
Candice is excited to be working at the Fringe Festival once again with Blarney Productions. She is an Edmonton based stage manager that works mainly with the Catalyst Theatre, the Citadel Theatre and the Free Will Shakespeare Festival. She is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Technical Theatre Program specializing in Stage Management. Much love to her fiancée.
Justin Butcher – Playwright
Justin Butcher is a writer, director, producer, actor and musician. His best known works include the multi-award-winning solo play Scaramouche Jones, starring Pete Postlethwaite and directed by Rupert Goold, the hit anti-war satire The Madness Of George Dubya and its sequels, A Weapons Inspector Calls and Guantanamo Baywatch and the controversially-acclaimed Go To Gaza, Drink The Sea, as well as five plays for BBC Radio 4. He holds BA and MA Honours degrees in Classics Greats from Oxford University and is an Honours Graduate of Drama Studio London. He lives in London and has worked all over Europe, in Russia, the Middle East, Africa, Australasia, Canada, the USA and Mexico. His work is produced and studied all over the English-speaking world, and has been translated into Albanian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Spanish and Turkish. He reads and translates Ancient Greek and Latin. He is artistic director of Passion Pit Theatre, which has produced 13 acclaimed professional theatre productions in the UK, USA, Mexico, Malta and Australia since 1994. He is also founder and director of the north London choir Vox Holloway and works extensively as a conductor, MD, organist, pianist and singer. Alongside his work in the arts, he works regularly as creative consultant, speaker, trainer, comedy writer and event producer in the corporate, government and charitable sectors.
Scaramouche Jones at the Edmonton Fringe Festival
An interview with Braydon Dowler-Coltman.
Describe your show in five words.
A clown’s final curtain call.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
The strangely pale-faced child of a gypsy whore, Scaramouche was always fated to be a clown. But from his birth, at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1899 in a dingy Trinidad knocking shop, his life has been a vivid odyssey through extraordinary adventures, crumbling empires and the darkest episodes of the 20th century.
Now, as the champagne corks fly on millennium eve, Scaramouche is about to give his last and most important performance. He steps out from the circus ring, peels away his outer disguises and reveals the loves, brutalities, ecstasies and tragedies that created the seven white masks of Scaramouche Jones.
How did you come across Scaramouche Jones and what made you want to bring it to life?
I pulled it off the library shelf and became instantly entranced by it’s beauty, honesty and heartbreak. The detail within the writing is a masterclass in storytelling. The journey the character goes on is beyond captivating and from there I knew I had to embark on the journey of bringing it to the stage.
Can you give some background on the character Scaramouche Jones?
Scaramouche Jones is the son of a gypsy whore, and as such never knew his father. In the naiveté of the child, he creates an epic narrative of his absent father and holds tight to it with the naiveté of the clown throughout his adult life; regardless of its total implausibility.
What experiences do you think will resonate most with audiences as they see Scaramouche Jones?
The audience will experience a beautifully sculpted and descriptive story of a 100 year old clown trying to release himself as he shares his life odyssey, and the significant relationships he forges along the way – the 12 year old gypsy girl he saves by claiming her to be his betrothed, to the Somalian snake charmer who buys the slave child, and finally the Jewish children in the concentrations camps at Split where he first discovers the power of laughter.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
This is a deeply human story which is certain to touch each audience member in an intimate and personal way.