What could be a more fitting performance during October to inhabit the Circus Oz Melba Spiegeltent than a wicked, tragic tale of lost loves and conflicting desires against the backdrop of a 19th century circus? Written by Graham Coupland with a score from Platonic, beneath the Spiegeltent’s velvety curtain roof The Carnival of Lost Souls fills the tent with haunting musical notes that creep up the spine, setting the tone for the evening to come.
Emerging from the mists, our performers drew us into a world of magic and mischief with acrobatics, burlesque, vaudeville and pounding vocals. Our journey began with acro balancing act This Side Up, a ghoulish trio of carnies that defied gravity several times throughout the night using props and each other’s shoulders to almost reach the ceiling. The strength that this required barely showing except in an almost imperceptible quivering of muscle.
The Carnival narrative follows The Fortune Teller and the Clown through their story of unrequited love, manipulated by their peers for sport, and in parallel the Circus Master arrogantly seduces and discards his performers, driving all to ultimate ruin. The would-be lovers carry forward the story through brooding rock ballads, expertly building the feeling of foreboding coupled with the Ring Master’s echoing guitar strains.
In acts set to amaze, aerialist Hannah Trott traversed the space above our heads, first with a graceful trapeze display and later in the evening with a stunning silks routine that caused us all to hold our breath until her feet were safely on firmer ground. Trott’s performance was permeated with emotion, in the beginning the first blush of desire and the dance of romance as she turned through the hoop and later in the performance bent the silks about her body in twists and turns, climbing to the heights of the tent and falling with the anguish of love spurned.
Shannon McGurgan, named The Strongman, took to the round for a wondrous routine with a cube made of metal rods. Dominating the room, McGurgan wielded the cube masterfully, spinning it within inches of the audience, dazzling with light as it circled high above our heads.
We were all completely charmed by equilibristic extraordinaire, Muse, Caz Walsh, who wowed us with a display of the rola bola – cylinders beneath a Perspex platform. Walsh skilfully balanced first atop one cylinder, then three building up to standing on top of a complex construction of cylinders and four levels of cocktail glasses and Perspex stacked like tiers on a wedding cake – cheekily one tier’s glasses were full of a refreshing pink concoction. Many we’re sure could have used a shot of something at the end to put hearts back where they belonged!
A dramatic combination of music, dance, and circus performance, The Carnival of Lost Souls succeeds in capturing the audience in an eerie atmosphere and inspiring awe at the mastery of its cast. There could be no other venue than the Melba Spiegeltent, its mirrored walls reflecting the spectacles before us and magnifying their impact.
The Carnival of Lost Souls in in town until the 28th October.
Venue: The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston Street, Collingwood
Dates & Times:
Thurs 19 October / Doors 7:30pm / Show 8:30pm
Fri-Sat 20-21 October / Doors 8pm / Show 9pm
Thurs 26 October / Doors 7:30pm / Show 8:30pm
Fri- Sat 27-28 October / Doors 8pm / Show 9pm
Tickets: From $55. Reserved seating
Booking and Info: www.carnivaloflostsouls.com