Review by Emma Whitelaw
WITH more fizz than a bottle of bubbly the colourful cast of
The Union’s latest offering, Barnum,
will have you in fits of laughter as they relive the tale of one
of America’s greatest showman – P.T. Barnum.
And what a fantastic tale it is! Wanting to 'give the whole world
a new paint job', Chris Coughlin (pictured) is superb
as Barnum, who takes it upon himself to liven up the mundane lives
of those around him. His fickle ways are counterbalanced by his
overtly sensible wife, Charity.
Played by the gorgeous Sarah-Jane Bourne, Charity (or 'Chairy'
as she is affectionately referred to by her doting husband) is
an absolute saint for tolerating her husband’s incessant
Forever trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, Barnum
spins and sugar-coats a world of fantasy and fun for his beloved
public. His first number, There’s a Sucker Born Ev’ry
Minute, says it all!
Coughlin truly has a fantastic voice, as well as an undeniable
stage presence. He brings a fascinating child-like innocence to
the larger-than-life character.
As bright and as bold as the colours
that he paints his world, Barnum pulls all the strings and manipulates
every occasion to his best advantage. His biggest pull would be
that of the Swedish Nightingale, a Ms Jenny Lind.
The stunning Angel Brereton plays the Nordic temptress. She is
commissioned by Barnum to stage an operatic extravaganza upon
the recommendation of Charity and the flip of a coin. The price
for their success, however, none of them would have ever guessed.
The plot is simple and incidental but is nevertheless provocative
and inspirational. An endearing and enduring marital romance dotted
with starry songs performed by a small army of clowns, tumbling
and stumbling all over the stage.
With clever scenic design and gorgeous costumes, it certainly
makes for an exceptional night out for all the family!
It isn’t often one gets the chance to 'run away' with the
circus – I suggest that you do!
Barnum – music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Michael
Stewart and book by Mark Bramble. Presented by Paul Tate Productions.
Starring Chris Coughlin, Sarah-Jane Bourne, James Thomas, Daniel
Whitley, Natasha Cox, Guy Newman, Debbie Chapman, Charlotte Milchard,
Philip Giorgi, Wendy Morgan, Angel Brereton Hannah Lindo, Kirsty
Holmes, Joanna Forest and Victoria Robertson. May 10 to June 4
at Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, London SE1 0LX. Box Office
020 7261 9876.