Captain Avaritia's Carnival of Wonders, Space Symposium Annexe, Review

Captain Avaritia's Carnival of Wonders - FCSA Theatre Company.
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
FCSA Theatre Company.
Craig Walker (writer / director), Hattie Ferris (technician).
Robbie Simpson (The Fallen), Cameron Cochrane (The Serpent), Nicola Anderson (The Cherub), Tanaya Brady (Amy), Steven Smyth (The Peculiar Man), Leo Henry (The Gatekeeper), Katie Bryant (Ira - The Visionary), Kayleigh Gallagher (Superbia – The Magician), Kaiya Gardiner (Vana Gloria – The Beauty), Sam Barclay (Luxuria – The Fire), Kayleigh Gallacher (Acedia – The Dreamer), Cameron Nicoll (Gula – The Galoot).
Running time

‘An old gypsy lady in soft Spanish whispers
Took my hands in hers and told me their secrets
"Your heart is a fire and his love is an ember
You must forget what you'll always remember"’ – Fairground Attraction (Mark E Nevin)

What do you really want, and how much would you be willing to give for it?

It’s a question at the dark heart of this tale as the Carnival of Wonders rolls into a town in a lost time, an older America.  The past is a foreign country, and they do things differently here.

Amy stumbles into the fair distraughtly searching for her missing little brother Tommy as the ringmaster, introducing himself as The Gatekeeper announces the evening's acts.  He is full of bonhomie, but automaton like and a little strange.

The eccentric acts include a clairvoyant who sees too much, an “irresistible, unobtainable” immortal beauty telling the story of Medusa the Gorgon, a dreamer tired of the world, a magician whose smile is her best illusion, and a rather desperate children’s entertainer in search of a stronger finish.

The desires of the acts are like Faustian pacts, traded with the avaricious Peculiar Man for a story and a promise.  However, the Carnival is diminished, missing The Songbird, a required seventh act and soon things look like splitting along the seams.  But the show must go on.

The vignettes of variety acts are enthusiastically if a little melodramatically performed and the overlaying of folktales with the supernatural in small town Americana gives a good “outsiders” atmosphere, not dissimilar to that of 1950’s fiction such as Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes”, with a touch of video games like BioShock.

It’s a little uneven but interesting and could be developed, and as a first performance of original writing from a new company it has a certain fairground attraction.

Show Times: 21 to 26 August 2023 at 8.15pm.

Tickets: £7.50 (£5.50).

Suitability: 14+ (Contains audience participation, distressing or potentially triggering themes, strong language/swearing).