Big Telly presents FREAK SHOW

Big Telly presents FREAK SHOW

Date:  12th March

Time: 8:00pm

Price: €16.00 / €14.00 conc.

Freak Show

‘We were having a hard season, wet weekends,

Cold winds, and farmers too worried ‘bout their crops

To go to carnival; worst of all, we didn’t have a freak.

We’d a good enough show. I did a bit of fire eating

And sword swallowing, Krinko hammered nails

Up his nose, Captain Billy did the Bed of Pain

And the Human Ostrich swallowed mice, brought

Them up again still wriggling: all kind of stuff

Anyone would enjoy, but we badly needed a freak.’

Moyra Donaldson


Freak Show is a new original blast of irreverent theatre from North Coast based Big Telly Theatre Company. Inspired by the story of the real 17th Century Portrush Giantess, Mary Murphy.

‘a handsome, well-proportioned "giantess who was seven feet high without her shoes, who was born in the Isle of Portrush, not far from the wonderful Giant's Causeway in the most northern part of Ireland." (A Short History of Human Prodigies, Dwarfs, etc. - James Paris du Plessis).

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 & abandoned, her celebrity forgotten.

The new piece is devised and written by Big Telly’s artistic director, Zoe Seaton and actor Nicky Harley working closely with Moyra Donaldson. The script uses material from the Newtonards writer’s collection 'Miracle Fruit' alongside new pieces written for the show. Miracle Fruitexplores a fascination for the Enlightenment era, the physical freakery of those living on the margins of society, and a personal, tangible sense of loss.

Whether channelling the voice of co-joined twin Violet Hilton or boldly instructing us 'How to make a Pig-faced Woman', Moyra’s taut, insightful text sits alongside spectacular visuals and anarchic half-mask improvisation conjuring up a unique theatrical magic.   

The production’s original score is created by Garth McConaghie and features a strange and exotic, darkly fun pick ‘n mix of musical pieces, with influences of reclaimed musical aspects of nineteenth century music hall, carnival and circus and modern Lo-fi electro.

Multi-award winning theatre company Big Telly have carved out a reputation over the past thirsty years as bold, risk-taking theatre makers. Irreverent, mischievous with a darkly slapstick brand of tomfoolery, the Northern Irish, north coast based company maximises the visual potential of theatre using dance, music, circus, magic and film to create a unique sense of spectacle and pure entertainment. 

The small, agile and endlessly imaginative team at Big Telly are expert in making small inside stories extraordinarily universal


Please Note: This performance will not have an interval

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Keith Singleton (Soft Border Patrol / Puckoon / Melmoth The Wanderer)

‘Keith Singleton’s portrayal of an Ulster Unionist with loose denture could be spun off into a whole show of its own’. – Alan in Belfast (Puckoon)


Nicky Harley

'Harley merges staggering, sometimes unsettling impressionism with degrees of silent poignancy' – The STAGE


Original music composed by Garth McConaghie

 'The Faerie Thorn' (Big Telly Theatre Co., touring): Composer/Sound Designer

'Derry Girls' (Hat Trick Productions / Channel 4): Musical Advisor/Arranger

'Hansel & Gretel’ (The MAC, Belfast): Composer/Sound Designer


Set Design       Belfast visual artist Anna Donovan

Costume          Lorna Gough


Freakshow is written and devised by Zoe Seaton & Nicky Harley, and directed by Zoe Seaton.

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Big Telly presents FREAK SHOW