The Silent Theatre Company's "Carnival Nocturne" blends child-like whimsy and fantasy with a heavy dose of Tim Burton-style macabre for an engaging 90-minute performance of drama, comedy and music.
Influenced by classic silent film as well as Burton and illustrator and scenic designer Edward Gorey, the company splashes the production with vivid images of carnival characters and twisted allusions. The show opens with the barker (Marvin Edwardo Guijada) unfurling himself out of a chest clutching a whiskey flask; he comes into the audience, pointing to his name in the program, establishing the connected nature of the production. The invisible wall between audience and actor is erased as the players silently but effectively request applause, reactions and compliance. The story reflects the haphazard effects of a carnival, with an unclear tale of a neglected girl (Robin Coffin) drawn into the carnival fantasy world and the tortured ringmaster (Dan Heward) doomed to keep repeating a dark curse unless something, or someone, changes it.
"Carnival Nocturne" is crammed with symbolism and various subplots so it's not easy to follow, but that isn't really the point. A circus world filled with wonderfully vivid costumes by Barb Staples and showcasing eerie Siamese twins (Lindsey Marks and Taylor Bibat), freaky cats (Dean Evans and Molly Plunk) and a host of engaging characters underscored by brilliant live musicians - that's what this play is all about. Adventurous direction by Tonika Todorova and wildly effective make-up by Stephanie Schultz supply "Carnival Nocturne" with enough wackiness and subversive fun that you don't miss a traditional storyline.