C Royale, Edinburgh
In the American dust bowl of the 1930s, a travelling carnival is pluckily plying its trade, still managing to part the locals from what little money they have left. Myra Collins is their resident fortune teller, a woman who happily admits to having no supernatural gifts whatsoever, just an ability to look the part and say all the right things. Sure, it’s dishonest, but a woman’s got to make a living, right? It’s only Showmanship.
In this monologue, written and performed by Lucy Roslyn, Myra tells us how she came to be here – about her former life as a showgirl, about her vulnerable mother and the hard drinking man she became entangled with – and she explains how, even in the depths of the darkest depression the world has ever experienced, people are still willing to pay up front for a little shot of hope. And hope is what Myra offers them, dangling it just out of their reach, keeping them hooked so she can slowly reel them in.
Roslyn is a charismatic performer, giving Myra a sly, knowing demeanour and spitting out sarcastic lines that are often laugh-out-loud funny. Perhaps there’s not quite enough incident in her story to sustain the piece for a full hour, but I enjoy the performance and the atmosphere she creates – and I particularly love the clever ending, which sends the audience out in a state of wonderment.