Showmanship

Sharp-tongued, quick- witted, but ever so slightly rough around the edges, Lucy Roslyn’s fortune telling Myra Collins is no stranger to the seedier side of being a professional performer in 1930s America. Often crude, with innuendos abounding, Myra Collins is actually quite charming as she relays her current situation in a two-bit circus in the Dust Bowl. Given her circumstances, her promise of bringing hope seems hopeless, as she uses it as the only genuine act she can offer in the fraudulent world of fortune telling and tarot card reading.

Sharp-tongued, quick- witted, but ever so slightly rough around the edges.

It soon becomes clear that Myra herself shares in this hopelessness (her fortune telling chicken blew away in the last blizzard for starters). She has very few friends in the business and is quick to criticise her competition. After the sass subsides though, her story takes a more tragic turn and is played with the perfect melodrama you’d expect from someone in the early 20th century acting profession.

Slightly confusing was the introduction of Buddy, who could have been a number of things: the devil, Myra’s conscience, a spirit summoned from a séance or literally even just a no good Joe in a sharp suit. It may have been the pace of the performance that made this unclear, but it certainly didn’t ruin the overall effect. For a one-act play, it definitely covered a lot of ground.

The script is remarkably poetic; the lights of Coney Island and the swirling dust storms ravaging the American countryside were vivid. The sharp turn into tragedy was really quite profound as the groundwork had been cleverly laid to entice the audience into Myra’s world, then keep them there with the consistent intensity of the performance.

Roslyn’s character teases the audience with interaction, by posing questions that she swiftly answers, not rhetorical, but as if in conversation with an audience contemporary to her. These faux-interactions allowed her to build a stack of double entendres without challenge, and really showed off the research that had gone into the script writing with its witty 1930s slang and references to actual historical events.

If it wasn’t for the slight obscurity around Buddy, this would be a five star show. It was well-researched and well-written and presented an interesting subject through a very personal story from a well-developed character. And in the spirit of listing 'wells', well done to both Lucy Roslyn (writer and performer), and Jamie Firth for directing.

Reviews by Bethan Troakes

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

“People will pay to believe that anything is possible” 1935. Dust Bowl America. As the worst recorded dust storm in history is about to hit, a tinpot circus rolls into town. Fortune-teller Myra Collins is plying her trade, for there is trade to be done. People are desperate for the smallest sign of hope. But these are desperate times, and hope comes at a price. A darkly funny psychological thriller, laced with poignancy and devilry, by multi award-winning BoonDog. “A masterclass” **** (Edinburgh Guide) “Sassy, thoughtful and darkly witty” **** (The List) “Tour-de-force” **** (Broadway Baby)

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