Showmanship, Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Review

Showmanship-untitledThe 1930s – The Great Depression. In the United States, while the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby and the residents of West Egg lived comfortably in the cocoon of affluence, the residents of the ‘Dust Bowl’ states migrated west to the promise of fruit-picking work in California. Uncertainty about the future was rife, but for the likes of Myra Collins, she recognises a national yearning for hope and what people are willing to pay for assurance…

Written and performed by Lucy Roslyn, Showmanship is an intimate portrayal of one woman surviving in such a world. Like many others who seek answers, we are having a private audience with Myra, a fortune teller who has arrived in town. Anybody expecting her to ‘lay it on thick’ like Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit will find their expectations challenged. Yes, there are certain mannerisms and ‘buzzwords’ present, but Roslyn is at pains to make Myra ‘unconventional’…

There are many people and vocations that claim to be purveyors of ‘truth’ – politicians, news broadcasters, religious spokesmen – but as a fortune teller, which is often viewed with scepticism, Myra is the rarest breed of people: a person without an agenda. Back east, Myra was involved in a different line of work, but still involving ‘keeping punters happy’. However, circumstances force Myra to evolve with the times, plus life has a way of reassessing one’s priorities. Much like Jim Casy in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Myra isn’t bound by the constraints of her ‘vocation’ and candid to a fault.

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Myra’s frank admissions about drinking and past relationships are a breath of fresh air and one feels that she’s reached her own ‘zen sweetspot’ in not caring about the opinion of others or of ‘consequences’.

Far from being an ‘out-of-touch’ woman from 80+ years ago, Myra expresses our own feelings – an ambivalence towards our own lives, the status quo and what the future really holds. But even in these dark times, hope and ‘magic’ are not out of the question, and may arise when least expected…

© Michael Davis 2018

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Showmanship runs at Venue 6, C venues – C Royale, Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22 George Street, EH2 2PQ from Aug 15-27 (5.40pm)

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/showmanship

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