"Freaks" is a show that is playing inside the showroom at O'Shea's casino. It features the
most extreme "freakish" human behavior including the skewering of skin, glass eating, walking
on glass, sword swallowing, and a variety of other behaviors that are guaranteed to make you
squirm, cringe, and gasp. And yet, the most surprising element of this production is the
theatrical setting in which these behaviors are set. The brief scenarios evoke a wide range of
emotions that seem contradictory...you laugh at the same time you are disgusted, and you feel
tenderness while you wince. It is an interesting combination of emotions that exhausts you by
the end of the show.
I am very conflicted about this show...I liked it, and yet, this is not a show that I want my
daughter to see...there are just too many bad ideas in this production that have to have been
spawned by extreme boredom. What would make you want to stick a spiral metal coil in your nose
and out your mouth with a power drill? What is going on in your life when eating a light bulb
sounds like a good idea? It is announced right at the start of the show, "this is not a magic
show. Everything done by the performers is completely real." Why would anyone do these things
to themselves? It is a conundrum that is baffling. This, of course, is also the fascination
with this show. How can you not watch?
This is certainly an evolution to a traditional sideshow. The settings and the scenes that are
played out with the stunts bring this show to a much higher level. There is emotion and
feeling---oftentimes that is completely unexpected. I didn't expect to feel the tender caring
between a couple as the man sticks a metal pin first through her arm and then his, in essence,
locking the two of them together. I didn't expect to laugh and find the queefing of darts
through a blowgun at balloons cute. There are a lot of unexpected elements to this show.
Additionally, good lights and sound have never really been a part of traditional sideshows.
The strong production values of this show really make a difference with the artistic
interpretations and help set a mood and atmosphere that makes this show work.
The showroom at O'Shea's is very intimate, which puts every audience member close enough to the
stage to hear the sounds of glass being chewed or the sound of a sword being swallowed.
Because of the close proximity of everything, the video screen is not being utilized as well as
it could and is sometimes a distraction. I could see the action better live than on the screen
and really wanted the screen to give me an alternate perspective.
The weakest part of the show is the banter and narration between each of the acts. There are
times that the energy from one element to the next seems to fall flat.
"Freaks" really surprised me. I enjoyed the show and have thought back on it enough times that
I know it has given me a lasting impression. This is not a show that will quickly fade in my
memory. The show evoked so many emotions in me that I was exhausted by the end of it. I had
been well prepared to know what to expect in the production, but was still enthralled to watch
it live; and I must admit that I'm the squeamish one in my family, and I honestly didn't expect
to make it through the show, but watching these things in this context made it very
watchable...and in spite of all of my pre-show misgivings, I have to say that I would recommend
this show. Everyone involved in the production did a good job.