Side Show at the Southwark Playhouse
For several years now my musical theatre loving friends have extoled the virtues of Side Show to me but up until now I have not had the opportunity to see it. Luckily the production of Side Show at the Southwark Playhouse did not disappoint and I am finally able to understand and agree with their fandom!
The show tells of conjoined twins, Violet and Daisy who we meet under the charge of ‘Sir’ in a Sideshow. They are there along with a bearded lady, a lizard man, a fortune teller and other such ‘freaks.’ They however soon get scouted and taken to Vaudeville where the twins desire to do what normal folk can do lead to some life lessons and tough decisions.
The cast is led by Louise Dearman as Daisy, the outspoken, flirty twin and Laura Pitt-Pulford as Violet who longs to settle down as a housewife. These 2 leading ladies give an absolute master class in their performance and you are instantly hooked on their characters. Their delivery of ‘Who Will Love Me As I Am,’ was touching and sincere and their voices really blended well together in their numerous duets. Despite Dearman and Pitt-Pulford not looking anything alike in reality, clever costuming, wigs and shoes overcame this and from their first entrance I did not doubt their similarity.
The rest of the cast worked well around them and the remainder of the Sideshow attractions took on the ensemble rolls ranging from reporters to various characters in the twins backstory as soon as it moved on from the Sideshow. I loved the use of the cast in these roles, especially in act 1 when they appeared with their freak attire still present. It served as a reminder of a running theme, that there is a freak in all of us.
Jay Marsh as Jake really stood out as one who really had the twins interest at heart. He played this with sincerity and his voice in ‘You Should Be Loved,’ was smooth and beautiful.
The staging worked perfectly for this venue. As a you walked in there were lightbulbs twinkling everywhere, giving the venue a magical feel. The direction by Hannah Chissick ensured that the use of levels enhanced the drama with the upper levels often being used to look down upon the twins, until the tables turn.
This is a beautifully touching show with subtle moments really hitting home. Whilst this show dates back to 1997 the themes in this show to me seem more relevant than ever: the price of fame and what is really means to be ‘normal.’ Side Show, with a stellar cast and beautifully designed set, makes you think and what more can you ask for from a piece of theatre than this?
Sideshow is on at the Southwark Playhouse until the 3rd December 2016.