Gordon Greenberg directs this latest revival of the musical starring Marcus Brigstocke. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews here:


Barnum tells the story of P.T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman on Earth, who combines razzle-dazzle with charm and brass to sell “humbug” to cheering crowds. A joyful and moving musical portrait of the nineteenth century’s greatest show-biz legend, Barnum is a colourful, dynamic spectacle full of circus, side-show legends, toe-tapping songs and immense heart. 

The Guardian: *** “It’s less grand circus, more travelling carnival, and there are moments when everything comes together for a charming, toe-tapping affair despite its wobbly tentpole.”

Broadway World: ** “In stripping back some of the spectacle for this smaller space, Gordon Greenberg’s production reveals the work’s weaknesses – as well as those of its leading man.”

The Independent: *** “the Menier provides much to enjoy on the level of pure spectacle in Gordon Greenberg’s striking production which transforms this small theatre into a Big Top and circus ring.”

The Stage: *** “Director Gordon Greenberg tackles the task of cramming the wonder of the big top into such a small space by throwing everything he can at the production, acrobats, stilt walkers and fire-eaters, with the ensemble all kitted out in frilly petticoats and unconvincing tattoo-sleeves.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Greenberg forgot the most important thing: without a great showman, the circus ring is as empty as the hole in a donut. In casting comedian Marcus Brigstocke as Barnum, he undoes all the magic he has created.”

The Telegraph: *** “This isn’t the greatest show on earth. It’s not even the greatest show in Southwark. But it does offer the chance to run away to the circus for the night. Barn-hmm, then.”

The Times: ** “The Greatest Show on Earth is lacking in razzle dazzle”

Theatre Cat: “on the whole it’s not bad fun, absolutely a family show. Left me wanting to know a lot more about Barnum in both showbiz and his political career than it offered, and that’s a start.”

Exeunt Magazine: “The energy of the circus is right there in the forceful ensemble, Rebecca Howell’s choreography and Scott Maidment’s circus direction that manages to steer clear of cheesy. But Barnum needs to be the lynchpin that holds the show together, the great impresario that should sweep us along with his castles in the sky – and Marcus Brigstocke is just not that man.”

Time Out: ** “Ultimately the musical itself is the most at fault, reducing one of US’s most ambivalent icons to a blandly aspirational American archetype. You’ll have a decent time, but it’s hardly the greatest show on earth.”

British Theatre Guide: “Barnum is an undemanding, upbeat musical that relates the tale of a true eccentric, Phineas T Barnum, and the love that he found with his perfect wife, Charity. However, the real strength of Gordon Greenberg’s production lies in the energy and panache shown by the large cast.”

Mature Times: “Gordon Greenberg’s production is colourful and lively and it is the production numbers, One Brick at a Time, Come Follow the Band and Join the Circus, choreographed by Rebecca Howell, which are the high spots and which give most delight.”

Musical Theatre Review: **** “There’s something in this show for everyone, and if you’re after a fun, enjoyable night out at the theatre (or indeed circus), you would do well to “plunk your quarter on the line” and enjoy this “brand of genuine malarkey”.”

Live Theatre UK: ** “So many elements here bode well, although Greenberg’s direction lacks a signature stylish punch, but nothing can overcome the miscasting of Brigstocke.”

The Metro: * “But in Gordon Greenberg’s production the energy levels plummet every time the focus turns from the talented company to its star. ”

Musical Theatre Musings: **** “It is a show that is probably much like Barnum’s circus shows themselves, not a lot of substance but full of ‘humbug,’ and a great deal of overall showmanship and even more enjoyment.”

Barnum continues to play at the Menier Chocolate Factory until the 3rd March 2018. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.menierchocolatefactory.com/



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