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Fringe Review: ARNOTT: A Masterclass in Good Theatring

By David Currie on June 15, 2019

ARNOTT: A Masterclass in Good Theatring
by Nicholas Aymott
60 min / Mature / Solo / Comedy

As a form and genre, Fringe comedy lends itself to absurdism. Partially due to the financial and practical limitations Fringe presents to its performers, and partially because of the intimacy of a fringe venue, absurdist comedy tends to score well with audiences. Being able to dovetail absurdity into hyperrealism is a difficult needle to thread, but Nicholas Aymott achieves it in his brand-new work ARNOTT: A Masterclass in Good Theatring and attention must be paid.

Beginning as an unrelenting and uproariously funny celebration of silliness, ARNOTT: A Masterclass eases the audience into a state of openness and engagement. Using a combination of self-immolation and audience participation, Aymott presents lessons on acting, truth, and the dichotomy between experience and ego. He draws the audience into a discussion of ego, entitlement, male transgression, male denial, male accountability, and finally male obfuscation in the era of #MeToo. We all have deep regrets and scars from our youths: People we have hurt, people we have ignored, and a past that is irreconcilable with the person we purport to be today.

An unrelenting and uproariously funny celebration of silliness.

In one hour, and with the knowledge that the audience is theatre-savvy and personally connected to the issue of male abuse within the arts community, Aymott manages to hold a personal, intimate conversation with his audience about the horror and shame of a society purporting to be progressive and equal but failing by every measure of those two ideals.

The theatre jokes—a chair for Mamet, confusion as to whether Arnott is a thespian from Germany inspired by Shakespeare or an actor from England enamoured with Brecht—ground the play in the language of its audience. The breakdown of personal narrative, the confession, the idea of acting as both the antithesis and thesis of truth grow from absurdity into a real fracturing of an actor. “If anything feels real it’s because it’s acting trying to be good.” Nicholas Aymott’s exploration of apology and of personal truth versus past embroilment is urgent and cathartic. Attention must be paid to ARNOTT: A Masterclass. Attention must be paid.


ARNOTT: A Masterclass in Good Theatring by Nicholas Aymott is playing at Studio 1201 (10 Daly Ave) until Saturday, June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.


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