Award winning Big Telly Theatre Company return to Theatre at The Mill with Freak Show on Wednesday 27 March. Never afraid of delivering work that is original and mischievous, if not slightly irreverent, the Portstewart based outfit’s work is always highly entertaining and deeply anchored in the stories, myths and legends of the land, especially the beautiful Causeway coast they call home.
Freak Show is a hugely entertaining blast of fringe-style vaudevillian theatre, inspired by the story of a real 17th Century giantess from the area called Mary Murphy. She is said to have danced for William of Orange and toured the world as part of a travelling freak show, popular at the time.
The story goes that Mary married a dashing French sea captain who gave up his seafaring life to manage her ‘freak show’ celebrity. But after her years being lauded by international attention, the Portrush giantess eventually died destitute and alone, her celebrity forgotten. Until now.
Artistic director of Big Telly, Zoe Seaton said: ‘Mary’s story made us wonder about celebrity culture today and how the whole business of fame has dark edges and corners. Who is exploiting who, and why? And is it really very different from 300 years ago where people were put on show to be stared at.’
The new piece is devised and written by Zoe Seaton and actor Nicky Harley working closely with Moyra Donaldson. The script uses material from the Newtownards writer’s collection 'Miracle Fruit' alongside new pieces written for the show.
Freak Show is an incredible display of physical theatre by two masters of the form – Keith Singleton (Soft Border Patrol/BBC) and co-writer Nicky Harley. The two actors play over 20 characters, itself an astonishing feat of their craft.
It is a fast, absurdly entertaining and raucous piece of theatre that is unique, funny and occasionally uncomfortable. There’s lots of humour in the show but Freak Show walks along a careful tightrope of empathy and emotion never losing sight of its sharp pokes at contemporary obsession with fame and celebrity.
Freak Show premiered at the Belfast International Arts Festival in November 2018 and is on tour throughout March.
Tour dates and venues, and further information at www.big-telly.com