Evelyn Evelyn has a wonderful conceit – a pair of ‘sisters’, sharing one heart and joined at the hip, are presented as part of a Victorian-style freakshow act by a suave and charming sideshow owner. Shy and awkward, the sisters take to the stage then perform a series of musical numbers on keyboard, accordion and guitar; as well as finding the time to present a grotesque shadow puppet play and a fantastically fake psychic oracle act.
With the mood set to high camp and affectionate parody, it is easy to overlook the talent of the performers. Each with a single hand free and constantly joined by the costume, they share the musical duties: Palmer strumming the guitar or pressing the accordion keys as Webley operates the other half of the instrument. The harmonious singing and the fumbling, slightly terrified mannerisms of the sisters complete the picture, creating something unique and hugely appealing.
The songs all reflect the sisters’ ‘condition’, with versions of Lean On Me and a quietly beautiful cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart effectively used without feeling exploitative. Some original numbers follow a similar theme: the predicament of living and loving when you can’t escape your other half. And yes, there are probably themes of ego and self here if you go searching for it, but Palmer and Webley’s performance is so tongue-in-cheek that they neither expect or demand you to.
As Amanda and Jason reappear as themselves at the end of the performance, Palmer tells us the future of Evelyn Evelyn is uncertain. If that is the case, and we have witnessed their very last performance, then we are fortunate indeed – as this sideshow has more talent, humour and charm then most top-billing acts.
Evelyn Evelyn’s run is over