• Amy Toledano

Ringmaster Presented by Network Theatre

What is it?

An exploration of relationships and sex behind closed doors and the difference between what we show those around us and what we keep for ourselves based on La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler.

What's it all about?

This piece follows the story of The Ringmaster (Emily Bates) as she paints the picture of what the "perfect" relationship is, how people relate to one another and where relationships start and end. In this La Ronde style show, the ensemble couples up and moves from one person to the next and we see many different examples of love, sex, power and identity. The Ringmaster, although in control at the beginning of the piece soon starts to unravel and she learns that perhaps sex is about more than just power and keeping that power for yourself.

How did it make me feel?

This is a difficult one, as straight off the bat it is important to mention that is an amateur theatre production and so, it is not fair to be too harsh or critical. However, this experimental piece didn't quite meet the mark of what it is trying to achieve. And while the actors are committed and throw themselves into this show 100%, the writing is awkward and clunky and with each scene building up to a sexual encounter that quite often stems from, not a lot, is quite uncomfortable and strange. The characters also, are not particularly fleshed out and the choices they make are unprompted and difficult to understand. The Ringmaster too is a strange character and I was never quite sure what her role in this over the top sex fuelled world was. While the cast shows a lot of potential, and I understand the basis of the concept it is not clear and with odd technical choices and trip-ups the show sadly does not completely win the audience over.

Anything Else?

This was a brave choice for an amateur theatre company, and kudos to them for attempting this complex idea but perhaps it needed more focus on the dialogue and the intentions of these characters and less on the abstract sexual encounters that inevitably appeared at the end of every scene.

Amy x

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