MASQUE THEATRE ON TOUR
Distinctive amateur drama
in Northampton since 1932
Registered Charity No. 294848
Page last updated: 11/03/2012 Masque Theatre © 2012
by Justin Butcher
Richard Jordan as Scaramouche Jones. Photo by Ian Clarke.
Fri 17 February 2012 at 7.30pm & Sat 18 February 2012 at 5.00pm
Moulton Theatre, Cross Street, Moulton
Wed 22 February 2012 at 7.30pm
Playhouse Theatre, Clare Street, Northampton
Sat 25 February 2012 at 8.00pm
The Fishmarket, Northampton
Cast & Crew
Scaramouche Jones Richard Jordan
Voice of the Ringmaster Bryan Hall
Oboe excerpt played by Ben Thomson
Director Kate Billingham
Stage Manager Bernadette Wood
Assistant Stage Manager Kristofer Fortella
Technical Assistance / Sound Jennifer Saunders
Sound Editor Martin Borley-Cox
Prop Builder Derek Banyard
Costumes Clare Brittain, The Works
Lighting Richard Walker, The Works
Playhouse Tech Phillip Welsh
Moulton Tech Tony White
Programme and Print Design Tamsyn Payne
Scaramouche Illustration Rebecca Fey
Photography Joseph Brown
Box Office Patricia Coleman, The Works
Production No. 386
Happy Days and Scaramouche Jones were performed as part of the Masque Theatre on Tour mini-season during February 2012. The productions were staged at three venues in the Northampton area. The tour was part of Masque Theatre's 80th anniversary celebrations.
Kate Billingham, director
Butcher’s script has certainly tempted the elite: a radio adaptation of Scaramouche Jones with Warren Mitchell was broadcast in 2001 on BBC Radio 4 and the late, great Pete Postlethwaite on stage during 2002. Butcher penned the role for himself in 2000 and finally performed it to wide acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 and thereafter at Adelaide Fringe, 2010.
Richard Jordan has taken on the challenge to play Scaramouche so we’re sure to witness excellent execution of the script with a profoundly moving performance.
Through the skills of storytelling, this one-man play takes the audience on a rollercoaster of a journey. Born of a Trinidadian gypsy whore, Scaramouche had an unusually pale face, his mother informing him that his father was an Englishman. This early childhood is the first of the seven phases of his life or, as he sees them, his seven white masks.
The first five decades of his life take us through Africa, as an assistant to a snake charmer, Egypt, Europe and to the Nazi concentration camps, where he was put to work on digging graves. As the children passed him on the way to their deaths, he would mime a grotesquely funny scene to them, depicting what was to come, lifting them to laughter and easing their fears.
Finally, he is free to live in England and, as he must have a surname to enter the country, adopts the surname of the immigration official after being convinced by a Welsh passport officer that Jones is true English name.
As the story unfolds, Scaramouche sheds his well-worn clown suit and the seven masks to become his naked self, to face his end and his beginning. This is a funny, compelling and beautiful account of coming to terms with a life lived.
The production will be ‘toured’ over two weeks in conjunction with Happy Days using a minimal set at Moulton Theatre, The Playhouse and The Nook. We are planning double bills with both plays on Saturdays giving the audience an opportunity to see both plays with supper in between.
We felt we had to see Masque Theatre on tour so on Saturday 25 February, Ian and I drove into town to go to the soon to be demolished Fishmarket. As supporters of Masque we’d been told that there was a good evening to be had there: two plays, a meal and the chance to go clubbing later.
Ian had gone ahead and found a table so we had a café-style view, with wine, in the Nook, plus new people to chat with and even heaters to sit by.
But to the plays. I’ve never experienced Samuel Beckett before and I’m not sure I want to do so again. That’s nothing to do with Patricia Coleman’s performance, which was very good. The set was black bin bags and we only saw the torso of The Woman. Her facial expressions fitted the words so precisely and she had a most marvellous range to show her audience. She was very well cast for her diction, clarity of speech and her memory. She was ably assisted by her handbag and her Man (Richard Walker). He made fleeting appearances and noises.
We then had a very tasty steak and ale stew; I just wish there had been more!
After a well timed interval, the second play began with a totally different set, more like home. I was soon mesmerised by Richard Jordan’s portrayal of Scaramouche Jones’s life: its twists, turns and chances.
The acting was superb. I knew I just had to give a standing ovation at the end, something I’ve never done before. As I was at the back, I couldn’t start a trend but others in front of me also stood. He was just so good in his role and many others there said the same.
For the directors of both plays, Ian Spiby and Kate Billingham respectively, I take my hat off to them for using their individual actors to create and sustain such an engaging evening with two very different scripts and performances.
Altogether, a very enjoyable evening with the double bill and I hope it will be repeated. The food, wine and café atmosphere all made it exciting.
And yes, we did go clubbing despite our average age being 63!
Rarely do you see a professional production let alone an amateur one where all the elements come together to produce something quite wonderful.
The script is sublime to start with and portrays the epic journey of Scaramouche Jones over 100 years of his life.
Richard Jordan's performance was quite mesmerising as Scaramouche and how wonderful to see an actor not afraid to pause.
Kate's direction was also excellent and allowed Richard to inhabit the stage in a totally natural way whilst allowing each phase of the story to enfold.
The set design, lighting and sound/music were also first class and played a vital part in the production.
I know I complemented you on the night but this really was a special evening.
Congratulations to everyone involved.