LAURA CARTLEDGE: Life is a circus old chum... and it’s up to you to be the ringmaster

Laura Cartledge.
Laura Cartledge.

THIS WEEK I had to restrain myself from clapping like an excitable seal.

There are a few things I enjoy more than a trip to the theatre, but going to the circus is up there.

So to say I was looking forward to seeing Barnum at Chichester Festival Theatre is an understatement.

And it heightened as soon as I set eyes on the big tent.

A show about the greatest showman, who created the greatest show on the planet comes with certain expectations.

But I couldn’t have imagined what was about the unfold.

It is an all singing all dancing display of back-flipping, tight-rope-walking, brilliance.

But it is also much, much more.

It is escapism at it’s finest as it makes you think more about the everyday.

Meaning the impact continues well after the last confetti has fluttered back to earth.

Yes I might be reading too much into it – call it an occupational hazard.

But stripping things back – quite literally – meant the simple, clever, staging allows you to see beyond the curtain of razzle dazzle.

Revealing the black and white of everyday lets us know the colour is there for us to add.

The shades of which are up to each individual – which makes it liberating – with the sense of destiny making you think of your own.

Put it like this...

We are told Mr Barnum deals in humbug, tall tales and world’s shortest men.

For the illusion to work we have to be in on it.

So if we are given a flash of a tail we turn it into a mermaid.

Four legs and a trunk become an elephant.

And we have to add the wrinkles to the world’s oldest woman.

Everything about the show is theatre, and a key ingredient is your imagination.

I strongly recommend you go follow the band...