Act One

SCENE 1 — (April, first day of the tour)

(The circus ring, covered in sawdust. The back wall is a striped drape, indicating the canvas wall of the big top. There are seats upstage behind a low canvas barrier or straw bales: the front row of the audience. Items of circus act equipment are scattered about: juggling clubs, costumes, magic trick props, musical instruments etc. There is also a practice trapeze rig. This is the set for the whole play.
Sarah enters with a flourish, dressed as the ringmistress.)

SARAH: Welcome to Circus Britannica! The most exciting, most amazing place in all the world! In fact, this is the world! The mother of Parliaments, sceptr’d isle and Shakespeare’s muse.

(Dave enters.)

DAVE: And, as he almost said, all the world’s a circus ring!

(Dave sits on the edge of the ring, smiles. He picks up a clipboard and reads.)

SARAH: We’ve acts from every corner of the globe. We’ll amaze and amuse, delight and defy, permit and approve, bend over backwards and fling wide the doors!
(Zoltan and Besnik enter cautiously, with bundles. Dave nods to them affably.)
Everyone’s welcome! But don’t complain, don’t heckle or scream — we never hear anything but applause! (To Zoltan, Besnik) Who are you?

DAVE: (Reading the clipboard) Clowns.

(Zoltan and Besnik put on red noses and nod in unison.)

BESNIK: Famous clowns from great Hungarian circus. Besnik and Zoltan!

ZOLTAN: Zoltan and Besnik.

SARAH: Auditions tomorrow, 10 am.

BESNIK: Or-dish-ion?

ZOLTAN: (With disgust.) Accordion?

(Besnik, pleased, mimes playing an accordion to Zoltan who shakes his head.)