REVIEW: THE CARNIVAL OF LOST SOULS, AT THE SPACE THEATRE

Platonic Music’s ‘The Carnival Of Lost Souls’ being performed at the Space Theatre this weekend is a circus cabaret show that is a cut above the many shows of this type that wend their way through Adelaide each year via the Fringe and Cabaret festivals.

Yes, it has many of the same type of acts – men balancing precariously on mountains of stacked chairs (Christian Reid, Mark Graham, Reece Cooper); a ribbon dancing aerialist (Hannah Trott); a woman who balances on stacked trays of wine glasses (Caz Walsh); acrobatics galore and occasional illusionist tricks (Richard Vegas) and clownish pratfalls. And the sad thing is, we have become, unfortunately, a little blasé about performances such as these, getting to see so many variations on this theme each year. This familiarity has reached the point where we often fail to recognize, and appreciate, just how much strength, skill and precision goes into making these acts seem so effortless each night.

Where this production is different, and ultimately more satisfying, is that it never fails to remember the simple fact that context is everything. Producer, writer, and self-appointed ‘Minstrel Of Death’, Graham Coupland, along with Artistic Director, Terence O’Connell, have had the good sense to set all of the impressive feats of physicality and sleight of hand at their disposal into a simple and loose narrative that binds them all into a cohesive and engaging love story between the circus troupe’s hapless clown and its lonely and melancholy fortune teller.

There is no dialogue spoken throughout the ninety-minute show, and these two unrequited lovers circle each other, intermittently performing mournful gothic serenades and laments as their relationship slowly sparks, stutters and dies. The performances of the two ‘leads’ – clown, Anthony Craig and fortune-teller, Aurora Kurth – are both vocally pure, although Kurth’s voice lacked the strength at some points to rise above the consistently evocative and atmospheric musical backdrop.

Amidst all the tumbling, twirling, levitating, and non-stop acrobatics in the show, there is also an oddly superfluous salacious burlesque striptease, courtesy of Olesya Borisova, who ultimately succumbs to the advances of the company’s perpetually womanising ringmaster.

It was odd seeing a show like this in the confines of a theatre, as opposed to the more usual location of a low stage in a large tent, but such was the skill of the performers, and the ingenuity of the stage and lighting designs, that the illusion of the sideshow tent was successfully recreated and sustained throughout.

Whilst the theatre was only about a third full for opening night – and this would have disappointed the performers and the show’s promoters – it ironically added to the show’s atmosphere, as these ‘lonely souls’ on stage, in that twilight zone between living and dying, seductively plied their trade for those lost and disillusioned marks who, at a loose end, had wandered into the carny seeking some distraction from the constant disappointment of their own empty lives. And who, for a brief moment, such as their enthusiastic applause and regular gasps of appreciation would have me believe, were given revivification – a potent shot of magic and wonder to see them through another lonely day.

 

Plutonic Music presents ‘The Carnival Of Lost Souls’ at the Space Theatre, November 10 & 11, at 8:30pm.

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The cast of The Carnival Of Lost Souls posing for photos with audience members after the opening night performance in Adelaide.

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