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Roll up to the Union for the greatest circus musical on earth!

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 'humbugs'.

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.


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