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Sweetly eccentric musical curio about a pair of conjoined twins
'I’m very well connected,' says slick producer Terry (Haydn Oakley) as he promises the girls a life of stardom and escape from their tyrannical ‘freakshow’ owner. 'So are we,' they fire back. It’s an evening filled with smile-inducing moments like this, even if it suffers from a meandering plot and rather repetitive score (needless to say, there are a lot of duets). But a fine ensemble, led by the excellent Louise Dearman and Lara Pitt-Pulford as the English-born ‘siamese’ sisters, bring so much vitality and vocal prowess to proceedings that such flaws are easily forgiven.
Hannah Chissick’s plush production looks and sounds great. Designer Takis creates a circus aesthetic befitting the cast of misfits - from a bearded lady to a ‘human pin cushion’. The practical concern of having Dearman and Pitt-Pulford literally joined at the hip is dealt with through crafty needlework, and doesn’t stop them sporting a parade of glamorous outfits. It’s only when the love affairs take off in act two - Jerry and his friend Buddy (Dominic Hodson) fall for a sister each - that things get a little unconvincing; I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure conjoined twins would be unable to stand back-to-back.
This is an enjoyable romp about learning to love who you are, and who you’re with. There is also a nice dynamic between Dearman’s extroverted Daisy and Pitt-Pulford’s more shrinking Violet. But despite its many charms, 'Side Show' goes down as a curiosity rather than a classic.
BY: THEO BOSANQUET