by Julie Wallis twitter.com/nicenic63
Side Show at the Old Joint Stock, Birmingham
Side show is at The Old Joint Stock Theatre until 28th July and if you can still get tickets for this show, I promise you, you will not be disappointed.
I love the OJS theatre, I love the intimacy of the space here and every production I see I think “well, this can’t be as good as the last show” and every time it is!
Based on the true story of the tragic lives of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton this touching story is beautifully and very tastefully done. Daisy and Violet were born to an unmarried mother who thought she was being punished for being unmarried. The midwife saw potential to exploit the twins so she took them on herself. Even though the girls were earning thousands of dollars each week they never saw a penny of it themselves this production tells of how the girls went from working a freak show to becoming huge stars of the day.
Side show stars Cassie Aurora as Daisy and Elle Knowles as Violet and they are perfectly matched with their sweet singing voices. They have also both obviously worked really hard on their choreography, they walk and dance together in unison beautifully. In real life, Daisy and Violet had very different personalities and this is evident even in this performance. With Violet being quieter than her attention seeking sister. When they sing I’m Daisy, I’m Violet, Who will love me as I am? or I will never leave you, they really did send shivers down my spine, especially as Elle sounds so much like a Disney princess, she really does have the sweetest, most beautiful singing voice.
Daisy and Violet had their lives turned around by Terry Connor (Richard Haines) who, alongside Buddy Foster (Bradley Welwyn) rescued the girls from their keeper ‘Sir’ (Simon Peacock) who believed he owned the girls. Simon Peacock as Sir was awful, but he plays awful soo well. I really didn’t like him, he was acting brilliantly enough to make me feel so angry with him. Both Richard and Bradley as the male leads were also great. These handsome hero’s save the girls from the brutal Sir and when they sang Very Well Connected once again their voices were wonderful.
When we entered the theatre space, I loved the way the atmosphere was already ramped up to 11. The door opened and we were called to Come look at the freaks which also is the title of the first song. With flickering candlelight inside the circus tent, as our eyes adjusted to the light we spotted the various freaks dotted around the edge of the circus tent. The entire company then do a massive song and dance routine whereby all of the freaks are introduced to us the audience, which ended when the Cannibal King (Patison Harriman) escapes from his bondage and terrorises the rest of the acts.
I did feel slightly uncomfortable at various parts of this show, including the opening number. But I guess life is very different today and history isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it’s good to move outside of ones comfort zone.
There are no set changes at all, but as always the show makes the most of every square centimetre and the outfits are all lovely. Obviously Daisy and Violet get a lot of outfit changes and ‘Sir’ (Simon Peacock) even gets a character change, becoming Tod Browning (a Hollywood movie man). All of the freaks remain just the same throughout, even when they are playing other roles like the judge in court or a gaggle of reporters.
For me, Lizzie Robbins, Maisie-Kate Robertson and Bea Coleman were all wonderful in their parts too. Maisie-Kate being both disturbing and brilliant in equal measure. The entire company have some lovely choreography thanks to Sarah Haines.
The songs are fantastic throughout and I loved this production of Side Show. Just remember, if you want to see this, and I do highly recommend it, although it is a long run, it is a small theatre so ticket numbers are limited.
Side Show is at The Old Joint Stock Theatre until 28th July. Book tickets here: oldjointstock.co.uk/whats-on/side-show
This isn’t a sponsored post. Julie saw Side Show for #BrumHour with tickets given by The Old Joint Stock.