, School Lane
29th November 2010
The name on my ticket was Sebastian Nerve, and as pleased as I was with
my newly acquired appellation, the real reason I was at the Bluecoat on
this cold, frosty evening full of promise and chilblains, was to witness
the work in progress that is Bi Polar Ringmaster.
I only discovered that it was a work in progress after the show had finished,
and this was a surprising yet also pleasing revelation in that I had enjoyed
the show and would have enjoyed more of it too. To whit, the show itself
was a representation of the emotional turmoil suffered by people with
bipolar disorder - from almost childlike happiness and enthusiasm to utter
depression and downward spirals into the deepest depths of sadness. There
was laughter, for sure, but there was also an element of sadness too.
True, the main character, the Ringmaster (portrayed by Eric MacLennan)
was in a circus, traditionally a place of unfettered joy and smiles in
abundance, but the paradox of the sad clown was bought to mind by his
excellent one man performance.
The show opened with the at first slightly discomforting sight of the
actor laying on the floor, legs and arms spread out whilst the in vision
signer stood perfectly still with her back to the audience, as atmospheric
sound effects pervaded the semi darkness. A few minutes passed until the
projector screen flashed and the televisions on the set turned themselves
on to show footage of the actor choosing his outfit in an elated state,
contrasting colours and ideas in his mind until satisfaction was achieved.
He then introduced the audience to some important figures in circus history,
and through this part of the show the real magic formed.
The use of audience interaction was pivotal to keeping the flow of events
as the Ringmaster went from the scattered excitement of the first half
of the show to the dark place the last part of the show finds him in.
In darkness, with only a pensive stage light on his floor bound frame,
the struggle of movement, both mental and physical, is portrayed as he
tries to get himself up from his stupor to face the day and let "the
show go on" as he insists that it must. When he finally does get
up and face the day, he is ecstatic, dancing around like a stage show
cast in his own right and it is on this note that the show finishes for
It's a work in progress, but if the finished piece is as good as what
I saw then it'll be an excellent show! The pacing, acting and music are
all worthy of note and judging from the positive reactions from the audience,
there will surely be more to come from this already worthy work.