This review was published in The Student Advertiser, April 2015
‘Barnum?’ I thought, as I scanned the programme looking for answers. ‘Who’s Barnum?’
Before I could locate anything helpful, both of the doors at each side of the Grand Circle swung open and two handsome, young men appeared waving excitedly at the sea of intrigued theatre-goers. Shaking the audience’s hands as he squeezed through some seats, the man closest to me began walking down the aisle of the King’s Theatre on his hands, dressed top-to-toe in colourful circus attire. Then, six more performers appeared between the seats of the ground floor and performed tricks for us.
I literally felt like I was six again.
Barely giving the audience time to digest what had just happened, the lights of the theatre dimmed to reveal a ceiling of fairy lights hooked to the stage like the inside of a huge tent. And there amongst a colourful cast in an aluminium circus ring was Mr. Brian Conley (Five Alive/Time After Time) centre stage, in all his glory.
The show follows the story of Phineas. T. Barnum, a creative genius determined to make his colourful visions of performing spread across Earth in a travelling circus. His wife, Chairy Barnum, played by Linzi Hateley (Les Mis/Joseph), supports his dreams with tough love, helping him to make all of his decisions by tossing a coin.
Barnum speaks to the audience throughout the show, cracking jokes, but it is Conley’s improvisational skills that win us over when things go wrong; the nature of the tricks executed on stage turn it into a breeding ground for errors and danger. Think acrobatics, tightropes, tests of balance a-plenty, and fire…