Barnum, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until June 20.

Brian Conley gives Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Barnum precisely what it needed - a huge dose of genuine star quality.

But not even Conley’s supreme talents can convince it’s a show that totally hangs together.

The show, which divided opinion when it opened at the CFT, has been revamped by Conley whose mere presence sends several million volts through it.

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But the first half still seems to be “Here’s an odd character.... here’s another... oh, and here’s another....” The story itself doesn’t truly get going until the second half. Even then, it’s episodic and far from gripping - which is maybe fair enough in a show which put so much emphasis on spectacle.

It’s really quite something to watch, fabulously, colourfully done. But whether it’s actually involving in an real sense, you’d have to say probably not.

Phil Hewitt

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