SCARAMOUCHE JONES by Justin Butcher, directed by Rupert Goold, with Pete Postlethwaite. Presented by David and Ed Mirvish and Gabriella Martinelli at the Winter Garden (189 Yonge). Runs to December 7, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Saturday-Sunday 2 pm, some Wednesday evenings and Saturday mats dark. $28-$55. 416-872-1212. Rating: NN Rating: NN
you know a production's in trouble when you keep thinking you'd get as much out of reading the script as watching it being performed. That's the case with Scaramouche Jones , the picaresque tale of a circus clown who recounts his century-long life on the last night of the 20th century.
From his birth in Trinidad to a Roma prostitute to his last days in a British circus - with stops in Africa, Italy and Poland in between - the sole character relates incidents of his life, using events in world history as a backdrop.
The art part comes in with the seven white masks he takes on, metaphoric guises that mark turning points in his life.
Thankfully, writer Justin Butcher , whose script is articulate, sensual and at times consciously literary, doesn't turn them into a seven ages of man thing, though masks two and three aren't clearly defined.
The key problem with the piece, though, is Pete Postlethwaite 's performance. He never conveys the character's emotional ups and downs, his discoveries and disappointments. It's not a matter of subtlety - Postlethwaite just doesn't seem to connect to or share with us any of Scaramouche's feelings. We don't feel compassion for him in the show's concentration-camp stories, for instance, because he hasn't earned it.
Don't be suckered in by a film star name.