BARNUM REVIEW: Brian Conley delights in the thrills and spills of the circus

Barnum
Barnum

A visually spectacular show full of showbiz razzmatazz rolled up to Milton Keynes Theatre this week.

Popular comedian Brian Conley stars as Phineas T Barnum - the American legendary showman in a new production directed by Jean-Pierre Van Der Spuy.

In a story about his life and marriage, hit-musical Barnum is a fabulously flamboyant show that brings colour and life to the stage.

It was a smash-hit when it opened on Broadway in 1980 and continued its award-winning run of luck when it transferred to the London Palladium with Michael Crawford in the lead role.

But fresh from his West End travels in Oliver!, Hairspray and Jolson, Brian Conley wows the crowd with his stellar, all singing, all dancing performance.

It’s heart in your mouth stuff when he takes to the tight rope - without the safety of a net or wire - to perfectly demonstrate his character’s daring bravado at a crossroads in his life.

For me, Brian Conley saved the show from being a real disappointment. Following a strong start, the plot and performance seemed to lose its way from the magical thrills and spills of the circus.

Despite attempting audience interaction with performers spilling out into the stalls to do daring tricks, the show seemed stuck on stage.

Although the colour behind the curtain lifts your spirits as you watch Barnum’s extraordinary ventures as well as his struggles through tough times with the help of trusty wife Chairy, played by Linzi Hateley, which all ends up with him teaming up with J A Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus – the Greatest Show on Earth.

Barnum runs until Saturday night. Book your tickets now at Milton Keynes Theatre Box Office, Call 0844 871 7652 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes (bkg fee).