Cleve: a story of conjoined twins and twin internal sex organs

The Butterfly Club is a charming, eclectic theatre venue where patrons can discover something a little bit different. This summer’s production of Cleve is no exception. Performer Colleen Burke’s story is unique. She was born with twin sex organs and had a sister who was also different. During the one hour show Burke alternates between tales of her own life and that of Daisy and Violet Hilton – conjoined twins born in 1908 England.  The Hilton twins led a varied life. They were shown as ‘freaks’ at Melbourne’s Luna Park; they attended parties with American socialites, including F. Scott Fitzgerald; they also sold tickets to their wedding for 25 cents apiece.

While the Hilton sisters’ story is interesting, it’s when Burke tells her personal story to the audience that she shines. She openly talks about losing her virginity, using tampons, and visits to the gynaecologist. She also shares what it was like growing up in a family with a sister that could draw stares when out in public as well.

Over all, the show would have benefited from cleaner direction plus a few more rehearsal hours (there were still some forgotten lines on the second night). But kudos to Burke and the Butterfly Club for avoiding conventional storytelling and staging a piece about characters that are outside of the mainstream.

– Jenny
Jenny S. is an event adventurer. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
Cleve runs 6-11 February 2018 at The Butterfly Club, 8.30pm.

 Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of The Butterfly Club.