Walking into the Dorfman Hub at the Roundhouse in Camden the viewer was thrown into a Victorian circus. Whilst walking around you could have your tarot read, try to knockdown stacks of bottles or watch a young girl twirling a ribbon. What was this all about? It was a little pre-show taster from the performers that were about to throw us into the world of a Victorian freak show.
As a piano, violin, cello and clarinet set the mood, the lights turned off and ‘The Announcer’ (Scott Gilmour) appeared. This became a common occurrence throughout the piece as we were introduced to each of the acts. The acts included; ‘The Man Who Can’t Forget’ (Lawrence Libor), ‘The Unbreakable Abomination’ (Thomas Cotran) with ‘Ms Ronnie Star’ (Carrie-Jane Connor), ‘Little Miss Thimble’ (Kirsty MacLaren), ‘The Missing Link’ (Robert Sharpe), ‘The Woman Who Speaks the Future’ aka Rali (Rosie Ladkin) and ‘The Half Lady’ (Claire-Marie Seddon). Each act would sing about their ‘abnormality’ as they entertained the audience.
After each of the acts performed, suddenly everything went in a loop. Each act was being announced again, this time offstage. We had seen their performances, but now the audience got a glimpse into the actual reality of life in the freak show. You got to see them preparing for their moment onstage, reading heart-breaking letters from loved ones and the harsh reality of having various conflicting personalities in such an environment really came through. This was a beautifully constructed juxtaposition to the first part of the show, seeing as we truly got to connect with the characters and see the truth behind their onstage facades.
You could really tell that everyone involved felt passionately about this project. This wasn’t a surprise seeing as many members of the cast had a part to play in the actual construction and realisation of this show; be it directing, writing or character development. What really stood out from this performance wasn’t only the talent of the cast, but also the interaction between the performers and the viewers. This piece of musical theatre really involves the audience. From joining in during a waltz, throwing wet sponges at ‘The Unbreakable Abomination’ or being surrounded by spirits as Rali read your future, the audience were very much a part of the show itself.
FreakShow is the newest musical theatre piece from Noisemaker Productions and part of the The Accidental Festival this year. If you have the chance to be at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013, I highly recommend that you venture into the mystical world created by FreakShow.