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Published November 16, 2017

You find yourself wandering down an unfamiliar street at midnight. The moon is bright and full, and illuminates the scene as if it were day, but a pale shadow of day. A faint mist hangs in the air. In the distance you hear faint music of an organ grinder. It is the only thing you hear. As if compelled by some outside force, and without your direction, your feet carry you towards it. You find yourself outside a tent, where a ringmaster, with the pallor and demeanour of a mortician beckons you inside. The clowns seem even more intimidating than ever. The air is smoky, and you feel yourself on the cusp of something otherworldly. This is The Carnival of Lost Souls.

A Victorian Gothic aesthetic, blended with a live original score of hauntingly beautiful music evokes feelings of love and loss, uncertainty, hope, at times, but an uncomfortable awareness of mortality, of finality, of something beyond the mundane and ordinary that we take as granted. Normally a cheery venue, the Melba Spiegeltent takes on a dark splendour, the shadows and corners more obvious and ominous than ever.

There’s a Clown, a Strongman, an Aerialist soaring through the skies above, Acrobats, Illusionists, everyone you’d expect to find at the circus, but you can’t escape the eery feeling that, should you cross her palms with silver, the future the Fortune Teller predicts will not be a happy one. Amongst them all stalks the Ringmaster (Simon P. Storey), harshly and bitterly cracking his whip, a looming, sneering presence, a man who really knows where the bodies are buried.

It’s a story of unrequited love between the souls of the damned, to which the performances themselves almost take a back seat. It is exactly what the name would suggest; it is only by the light of the full moon, of something seeping in through the mist from the other side that you bear witness to this tableau of tragedy, this steampunk circus, this carnival of lost souls. And when it’s over, can you really be sure that it began? Perhaps it was just a dream…

The Carnival of Lost Souls continues in Sydney and Brisbane and features performances from Simon P. Storey, Aurora Kurth, Anthony Craig, Hannah Trot, Shannon McGurgan, Farhad Ahadi, Circus Trick Tease, Richard Vegas, Julia Madotti and This Side Up. The show contains partial nudity, attendance by children under the age of 15 not recommended.

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