// 2017 Australian Tour
Melbourne: 19 - 28 Oct // Adelaide: 10 - 11 Nov // Sydney: 16 - 18 Nov // Brisbane: 23 - 25 Nov
// 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.
// A circus-like you have never seen before, The Carnival of Lost Souls combines aerobatic acts, magical illusions, emotive music and dramatic performances to tell a tale of unrequited love and loss.
From the moment you walk through the Spiegeltent doors, you’ll find yourself whirled away to the mysterious and somewhat Gothic 19th century. The living dead slither through the tent and on to the stage with nothing but lanterns for light. They lurk within the shadows with their piercing eyes always fixed on the audience while awaiting direction from the ringmaster.
Throughout the 90 minute show, you’ll bear witness to some carefully choreographed circus acts that display great strength and talent, leaving a look of awe on your face each time (especially when the actors seem to perform these acts with such ease). The Carnies show off their skills, balancing on anything they can, while the Aerialist gracefully dances and twirls from hoops and silk hanging off the big top.
The acrobatics continues with a swinging act that winds up with one of the most adrenaline pumping performances I have ever seen – there’s nothing like a human skipping rope to WOW the audience. With acts performed in such an intimate space, the audiences are kept on their toes for the entire show, almost as if they are participants in this spectacle.
As the story unfolds between the acts, you’ll hear of the torment and betrayal that unrequited love can cause. With her delicate voice, the Gypsy sings of the love she has for the philandering Ringmaster and how she is taunted as he admires the other beautiful performers, never noticing the Clown that pines after her.
The Clown will take you on a journey with him, through love, loss and rejection with his comical facial expressions, hand gestures and gentle voice. You’ll watch as his heart is stomped on by the Gypsy and he slips further into the dark abyss of the afterlife and if you are anything like me, you’ll feel sorry for that lost soul.
With intricate, Victorian-inspired costumes by Clockwork Butterfly, an original and highly emotive soundtrack by PLATONIC, fantastic makeup, incredible balancing acts and a cast of talented performers, The Carnival of Lost Souls is a unique experience that evokes a sense of magic between life and death.
// Traditionally Australians don’t celebrate Halloween. Culturally though, we are a society that takes up any excuse to dress up, have some drinks and a really good time. With this in mind, it’s little wonder that so many Halloween styled shows and events happen at this time of year.
The Carnival of Lost Souls is a touring variety show unlike any other. Described as a “gothic musical circus”, the Lost Souls include acrobats, an illusionist, aerial artists, singers and even a live guitarist. What sets it apart from other shows is the lavish Tim Burton-esq Victorian Gothic and Steampunk-inspired costumes, stage design and makeup.
Written and produced by the founder of Gangster's Ball, the show’s gorgeous design and eye for detail is a perfect fit within the mirrored splendour of the Melba Spiegeltent. The original and haunting musical score perfectly sets the mood. Channelling Johnny Depp in his finest Tim Burton film, musician Simon P Storey kept a pursed lip and an eerie guitar strum throughout the entire show in his elaborate Ringmaster tailcoat and skeleton adorned top hat.
Acrobat Caz Walsh had the audience holding their collective breath with an elaborate balancing act. Later on in the show she became a human skipping rope and performed nerve-wracking mid-air flips. The three muscle men carnies (This Side Up) balanced on chairs, poles and even each other.
Aerialist Hannah Trott climbed high into the tents peak with her wonderful curtains performance. One of our highlights was The Magician (Richard Vegas), who levitated a table around the stage (we are still wondering how he did it).
The Carnival of Lost Souls is a wonderful burlesque variety show with a great balance of acrobatic feats, lovingly crafted costumes and eerie Gothic rock soundtrack. Witness the weirdness for yourself.
// Not Just Another Circus. Oils may be oils but a circus ain’t just a circus.
Billed as a circus, the carnival of lost souls has it all. Set in the late 1800’s circus genre this dramatic performance has an intriguing cabaret combination of live music, magic, singing, drama, Bolero dancing and a variety of perfectly executed circus acts.
In layman terms, the music was highly emotive. It started with an ominous tone. The audience goes silent in anticipation of zombies or something equally as terrifying. This is reminiscent of The Addams Family but is combined with dramatic Spanish music, Enya style pieces and other tunes that take me back to Oliver Twist antics.
The storyline of love, loss and rejection is interspersed with high quality and professional circus acts such as awesome and scary acrobatics. Many a deep breath was taken, sighs of relief, laughing clapping and loud cheering were the audience's reactions when the impossible was achieved.
The lavish Victorian Gothic and Steampunk inspired costumes are true to the era and genre. They are staggeringly impressive. The women look like beautiful porcelain dolls. At times, it's like a rock show, at others, a magic show - every part of it engaging.
Australia's best physical entertainers, musicians and singers are backed by PLATONIC. The show is enchanting from beginning to end and displays great strength, agility and beauty in equal measures.
Performed at the Melbourne Spiegeltent venue this is an intimate size and the actors a close-up and personal. Surrounded by beautiful leadlight window, this circular shaped building has a mystical history.
Surprise yourself. This is a must-see show!
// 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 eerie 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…
// This wonderful Gothic circus served up in cabaret form was spellbinding. It had all of the usual elements one would expect. Feats of strength, superb balancing acts, clowns, magic tricks but all blended into a tragic love story of unrequited love.
The entire show is beautifully staged from beginning to end; the strange haunted souls who enter with lamps at the start take on the familiar roles from the circus: the Ring Master, the strongman, the clown, the acrobats, the magician and the fortune-teller, each with their own place in the story. The lighting of Jason Bovaird and the amazing costumes by Clockwork Butterfly enhances all. The music performed by Platonic ranges in style but is always appropriate and often haunting. This is supported by the excellent voices of the clown, Anthony Craig and the Fortune Teller, Aurora Kurth who with the Ring Master, Simon P Storey are the central characters.
When the crowd were not enthralled by the love story they were gasping at the aerial feats of Hannah Trott and the conjuring skills of Richard Vegas, not to mention the enviable balance and skills of Circus Trick Tease and This Side Up. In amongst all of this talent was an incredible bolero type dance which clearly demonstrated not only the skill of the dancers, but also choreographer Yvette Lee. The depth of talent was evident.
Conceived and produced by Graham Coupland, this is a show to startle, delight and stir the emotions all wrapped up in a Gothic love story: truly theatre noir.
// 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.
// The Carnival of Lost Souls is a macabre yet rather engaging piece of ‘circus theatre’ in the spirit, if not scale of Cirque du Soliel. The setting for the rather loose narrative that involves desire, betrayal and revenge, is an old Gothic 19th Century Music Hall.
Whilst the grande guigol aspect is distinctively 19th Century, the rest of the production is very ‘modern’. This includes the musical score that is part modern film soundtracks, such as Hans Zimmer’s evocative music for Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, and other composers such as Michael Nyman. These often underscore and wonderfully complement the thrilling circus acts, of which there are many.
Highlights include some incredible juggling – such as a single male performer tossing a giant silver open cube, which was fantastic. There is also the wonder of a malevolent magician with his fire, magic cards, and flying table; and the excitement of watching a young female performer balancing on small sheet of perplex glass on top of even smaller hollow tubes, and a table, with layers of wine glasses with orange liquid on trays in between. The gasps of amazement from the audience and the applause that followed when I saw the show is indicative of the wonder and sheer enjoyment to be had from this production.
There is a kind of plot line involving desire and unrequited love. The main characters are a young foolish clown and a beautiful fortune-teller, with whom the clown is infatuated. Their story is primarily told through songs; original songs composed by Melbourne based music artist Platonic, who performs ‘live’, accompanying the two singers. The songs are good and beautifully performed.
The only criticism I have of this ninety-minute piece of self-devised ‘circus theatre’ is that despite the thrilling acts, the show can be a bit monotonous and repetitive, and far too serious. There is very little spontaneous fun and virtually everything is done with the same heavy and sustained tone, pace, and atmosphere.
Because the narrative is relatively obscure and the stylization so extreme there is lot of posturing, with dark and serious looks that are essentially meaningless and lacking depth because you don’t really know why they are happening in the first place. However, if you just accept that essentially everyone in this ‘carnival of lost souls’ hates everyone else in one way of another, except the clown and the fortune-teller, it doesn’t really matter.
This show comes from Melbourne, written and directed by Graham Coupland, produced by Platonic Music and the brilliant Terence O’Connell from Spieglworld’s – Empire, and featuring a terrific cast of eight circus / physical theatre artists.
When the show was first produced in Melbourne it was in the Melbourne Spiegeltent. Whilst the show works well in the intimate Space Theatre in the Dunstan Playhouse I couldn’t help but think that it would have been even better if seen in Adelaide’s Spiegeltent.
However, despite these reservations this is a show well worth seeing, primarily due to the thrilling and exciting performances by the talented and skilled cast.
// CARNIVAL OF LOST SOULS: A WORLD CREATED
THE CARNIVAL OF LOST SOULS is playing at the Seymour Centre. The show is a genre bender for sure… part circus, part love story, part interpretive dance, part musical etc. And that’s always interesting. However, what sets this show above many others is the detail of its theatricality. Written by Graham Coupland with Terence O’Connell as Artistic Director, it is stunningly conceived and faithful in every bodily expression, every costume, every choice of each performer. Every face and body in character and faithful to the ethos. I simply loved the cohesion of the world they create and really enjoyed giving myself over to it.
There are some formidable talents in the cast: Aurora Kurth, Anthony Craig, Simon P Storey, Mimi Le Noire, Richard Vegas, Circus Trick Tease, This Side Up, and Hannah Trott. Yet the lack of showiness was perhaps my favourite aspect. The tropes of circus were missing … no fail first to show how hard it is, no extreme posing to elicit applause and none of the padding that drove me away from a certain French-Canadian troupe. Instead we have acts well integrated, with a narrative arc that is not skewed to fit the artist’s’ signature skills.
It’s all there and it’s all quality. There is strongman, chairs, magic, balances, silks, contortion, high art tumbling, aerial hoop and so forth but there is so much more. For example, the enchanting singing of well written and orchestrated, story rich songs (music by Platonic) which serve as respite from the pulsing, dynamic, propelling score and improvisational live electric guitar. As a side note, it wasn’t too loud either … well moderated by an operator who still has his or her hearing!
There’s a sexy fan dance in Yvette Lee’s choreography sure to raise your temperature and a surly prestidigitator who is out to keep the lovers apart in true Gothic style.
The show is meticulously of a period. It is Victorian Gothic with enough Grand Guignol to transport you to Pigalle. The costumes are to die for. Clockwork Butterfly has injected a steampunk influence to make corsets and long skirts and braces and cut-sleeve shirts easy to move in. But no jarringly modern noisy Velcro or other anachronistic elements. Feathers and lace and brocade in rich colours matched by the simple but effectively used lighting rig.
There is a huge range of colours available to lighting designers in modern fixtures but designer Jason Bovaird has keep a pure palette of moss green, Reckitts crown blue, open white and bloodletting red. And they don’t need a whole heap of smoke either. Very subtle use.
I really enjoyed THE CARNIVAL OF LOST SOULS. And I can highly recommend it. I just can.
// When the show opened, it looked like “Zombie Apocalypse Meets Ashton’s Circus”.
A 19th century, Gothic circus Noir theme is the setting for some highly-skilled circus performers, a magician (Richard Vegas), a pair of amazing singers, a couple of dancers and a burlesque performer (Mimi Le Noire), with a total cast of twelve showing what they can do for the Ringmaster.
Many of the usual circus and magic bits are there. The high hoop, the long ribbons, the linking rings, the floating table and the acrobatics all make a showing, with the death-defying stunts being limited only by the height of the ceiling.
A delightful surprise is the singing duo of Aurora Kurth and Anthony Craig who tell the story of the unrequited love of a young, sad clown for a gypsy fortune-teller. Their impressive voices, accompanied by original and haunting background music provide highlights.
“This Side Up” is three-man troupe that displays total trust in their interdependent balancing skills and strength. It’s the type of act that German tourists wish they could do on a beach.
I was in awe of the bewilderingly flexible circus skills of Caz Walsh who performs the really, really difficult revolving triple cylinder teeter board as well as balancing on three sets of wine glasses atop a rolling cylinder. At one point, her body is used as a skipping rope. How much time does Walsh spend stretching before the show?
Adding to the spectacle is the costuming of Clockwork Butterfly.
It’s pleasing to see that old school circus is still alive and is made even more interesting by combining the elements of other performing arts.
24 Nov 2017
// From the outset I was interested in seeing this performance as I found the title "The Carnival of Lost Souls" to be enticing.
Written and produced by Graham Coupland and influenced by steampunk and Victorian gothic, "The Carnival of Lost Souls" takes you on a tale of unrequited love expressed through song and physical theatre.
The set design and costuming of "Carnival of Lost Souls" is nothing short of breathtaking. The performances match the beauty of the design of the show unequivocally. The performers incredible physical prowess, flexibility to shape, bend and twist their bodies, as well as soar and glide without a hint of struggle is truly a gorgeous sight to behold.
With a haunting and captivating original musical score performed by PLATONIC, you are taken on a journey of a desired Circus Ring Master, a lovelorn gypsy, a broken hearted jester as well as incredible acrobats, a Magician who sleight of hand tricks more than the audience and mind blowing aerial and burlesque performances all encaptured in the colour and intrigue of the Circus.
Audiences of the show have the opportunity to be 'up close and personal' with some lucky members able to seated on stage in the throes of performance.
I thoroughly enjoyed this show and I couldn't keep the smile off my face throughout the performance. If you get the chance to bear witness to "The Carnival of Lost Souls", I highly recommend you make the effort to go and see this wonderful show.
// The Carnival of Lost Souls: very, very spooky circus
I caught this dark and deep production on the last leg of a four city tour that began in October and was fascinated by the magic of characters and content. It is a unique show, which I would like to catch again in a future tour.
It has a story line of unrequited love, betrayal, clever circus acts, and a bevy of songs.
The characters are bedecked in period costumes from the 19th century and were immaculately made. Make-up and sinister lighting added to the idea of people in limbo, lost souls indeed who wandered slowly around with obviously no place to go. It was all very, very spooky.
The atmosphere was truly ghostly and sexy at the same time. The girls in fancy dresses became the aerialists, not in spangled tights but lacy underwear as they tried to impress the Ringmaster who was played by writer and producer Graham Coupland.
The Carnival is eternal torment for a Gypsy Fortune Teller and a lovesick Clown. They are both living in their own hell, each in love with the unattainable. The Gypsy is in love with the philandering Ringmaster
Aurora Kurth is nicely scary and fearful at the same time as she rejects the clown and fawns after the ringmaster.
Anthony Craig was a brilliant sad-faced clown who dominated the stage every time he was on – and he shared the vocals with Aurora Kurth from a score by rock band Platonic. Here though, the inadequate sound system at the Roundhouse let the show down as the vocals tended to sound very similar with soaring notes and inaudible words.
In between the tale of woe was the circus acts – some amazing acrobatics from a male trio who took balance to a new high – and Circus Trick Tease, the group of tumblers were a knockout. They created brilliant routines as they tossed the girl around and finally used her as a human skipping rope. That brought gasps from the audience. It was trust taken to another degree. But they also brought back some of the old conjuring tricks plus a lovely levitation table that The Conjurer (Richard Vegas) waltzed around the stage
Aerialist Hannah Trott took her turn on the aerial hoop and ribbons. This Side Up were another strength team, - and they did some clever tricks with chairs.
Another act that floored me was the guy with a metre wide steel framed cube that the spun and made to some incredible moves. It was an act that needed precision and strength and he had both.
In between the acts the story continued as The Conjurer gives the clown a magical ring with which he hopes to win the Gypsy’s love. But once again to no avail.
It ran for around 80 minutes and they were all eye-popping.
// The La Boite Theatre Company Roundhouse Theatre was overrun by evil circus ringleaders, gypsies, magicians, acrobats, and clowns on Thursday November 23. An eerie 19th Century circus is brought to life during the performance of The Carnival of Lost Souls, during two hours of mind-bending circus, theatre, cabaret and music extravaganza!
Written and produced by Graham Coupland, in collaboration with artistic director Terence O’Connell (Empire and Spiegelworld), The Carnival of Lost Souls was anything but a typical circus. Promising NO animals and a truly theatrical evening, I was eager for a show like no other.
Looking around me I could see the audience members were in awe at how majestic the set for this production looked. I could hear music creeping up in volume from a distant speaker, and around the audience, the performers began to appear one-by-one making their way onto centre-stage.
The idea of the production was that it was a circus within a circus; a noir-like storyline that kept the audience wondering what the deep, dark secret the circus ringleader was hiding, after the mysterious gypsy looked worryingly into a crystal ball. The show was a dynamic performance with a love-story entailed and comedic moments intertwined by the drunken clown character, who spiralled out of control because he had fallen in love with the gypsy who rejected his advances.
Other notable mentions in this intricate performance have to go to the woman who balanced on martini glasses. The show came to an abrupt, tragic climax as the sad, highly intoxicated clown burnt down the circus tent. The evil ringleader ran into his circus just a few minutes too late, but with enough time to see his prized possession burn to the ground.
This super dark and twisted Victorian-era-themed circus was an interesting look at what it might have been to have worked in a circus back in the days of bearded ladies and fortune tellers. The Carnival of Lost Souls was an excellent showcasing of entertainers, musicians, singers, dancers, circus performers, cabaret, magic, mime, acrobatics, and things you cannot even put into one specific category.