Chronicling the true story of conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, Side Show is the latest musical treat from the Old Joint Stock. Set under a circus tent, their wonderful studio space was yet again transformed for this utterly captivating performance. The audience was invited to ‘come look at the freaks’ and riding on ‘The Greatest Showman’ phenomenon, Side Show felt like an even more timely choice. With book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music from Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger, the soundtrack to this show is nothing short of goosebump inducing.
In traditional, immersive style, the Old Joint Stock placed the audience at the heart of their performance. Acting as spectators, eavesdroppers and more, we were sat amongst the ‘freaks’. With suspended Edison bulbs, the attractions were eerily lit around the space and they all superbly came to life in the hands of this extremely talented cast.
There were strong performances from Alanna Boden (Fortune Teller), Jessica Birtwistle (Venus De Milo), Joash Musundi (Dog Boy/Ray) and Maisie-Kate Robertson (Geek), led by the unnervingly creepy ringmaster Simon Peacock (Sir). It’s difficult to not list everyone in this review, because this show was, ultimately, an ensemble piece. However there were some standout performances.
Amongst the attractions, Vicky Addis as the Bearded Lady and Lizzie Robins as Three Legged Girl were completely enthralling. Whilst, a particularly special mention must go to Tattooed Girl (and Choreographer) Sarah Haines, who was the most stunning dancer. Bea Coleman was strikingly beautiful as Half Man / Half Woman, you couldn’t help but get drawn into Coleman’s performance. Bea’s raw emotion in Say Goodbye To The Sideshow really held with me long after leaving the theatre.
Patison Harrigan was excellent as Jake, with a velvety toned voice singing gorgeously through The Devil You Know, whilst the pairing of Buddy and Terry was sheer perfection. Bradley Walwyn and Richard Haines took on the roles with aplomb, both illustrating their talent as actors and singers - Very Well Connected was a certain highlight.
However, you can’t have Side Show, without Daisy and Violet…and my god did OJSMTC get this casting right. Elle Knowles (Violet) and Cassie Aurora (Daisy) were the shining stars of this production. They brought the characters to absolute believable life, there was no question in those two hours that we were watching Violet and Daisy Hilton. Elle Knowles was sublime, her sweetness, naivety and unassuming nature, juxtaposed her sister’s more outgoing and flirty nature and Cassie Aurora captured this perfectly. It was a masterclass performance from the duo and their breathtaking duet of Who Will Love Me As I Am sent tingles down the spine.
There is no doubt that Karl Steele (Director) and Nick Allen (Musical Director) have put an incredible amount of time, effort and work into making this show what it was. And, more importantly, it’s a show with such a powerful and relevant message. The Old Joint Stock have done it again and this superlative production is another one that will be remembered long after it has left the theatre.
Love Midlands Theatre
Sharing the latest theatre news and reviews around the Midlands.