Scaramouche Jones or The Seven White Masks
Scaramouche Jones or The Seven White Masks opens with jolly clown music and a dimly lit set. The room is overlooked by one looming poster with “Funniest Clown” plastered in big, bold letters at the top. Enter Scaramouche Jones, the star of the night. He descends the stairs and begins the retelling of 100 years of his life. There is a camcorder set up – a parallel with the state of today’s entertainment. The way the battery on the camcorder drains as the play unfolds adds further dimension to the overall delivery, and it helps that the date and time are displayed firmly in the corner as a reminder of the setting at the turn of the century.
The events of Scaramouche’s life come at a rapid rate with varying emotions, from quirky silliness to sadness and despair. There are barely any deep breaths between, which is appropriate in the context of a concept that crams a century’s worth of history and adventure into one sitting. And in turn, the first time the clown truly laughs is all the more powerful. The filter of the camcorder adds a nostalgic tone, further aiding its cause. There are static skips as it jumps from one angle to the next, providing a little bit of whiplash, but this fades significantly later on, where the camerawork and angles become a little inconsistent.
Audio clips and sound effects are used to add life and vibrancy to the performance. The music is overpowering, almost drowning the dialogue, but the charming script powers through. Lighting flickers from a red palette to a dark glow of blue in moments of further significance. This fluctuation of colour helps carry the audience through the more gruelling and sometimes even confusing parts of the play. Shane Richie is glorious, balancing on the edge of charisma and enigma. His facial expressions are prominent and nuanced, even through darkness, only highlighted by the white face paint and reinforcing the play’s point.
At the end, an onslaught of previous recordings flood the speakers at the turn of the clock. The TV switches on to welcome the new year, and fireworks play alongside 1999 by Prince. The star’s body goes limp in his chair, and his hat falls haplessly to the ground, signifying the freedom of Scaramouche Jones, and the end of the play.
Photos: Bonnie Britain
Scaramouche Jones or The Seven White Masks is available to stream via Stream.Theatre from 26th March until 11th April 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.