FRINGE REVIEW – Little Friday Theatre, Carnival of Crows

*****

By Jen McGregor

This is one of those rare Free Festival finds; a well thought through piece that makes good use of its space, shows great promise in the writing and is clearly champing at the bit to go beyond the technical limitations of the free venues.

The story of this macabre carnival plays out in a sinister world that will seem familiar to fans of early Tim Burton, Edgar Allen Poe and any other artist who ever inspired a young woman to don a corset and stripy stockings. It might not be the most original work the Fringe has ever seen, but the ideas are well-developed and the writing shows great promise. Writer and performer Molly Beth White demonstrates her flair for both the creation and delivery of gruesome, lyrical prose.

She makes a convincingly wraith-like Poppy, watching from the shadows as one horror after another befalls the carnival’s assortment of freaks and oddities. Through poetry, song and dance, White conjures up living puppets, ghosts and a devilish ringmaster. Her relish for her ghoulish subject matter is obvious and adds to her slightly creepy charm.

Unfortunately, the show is let down by its technical elements. It’s clear that this production was imagined as something more lavish, and the minimal lighting and sound equipment just can’t serve that vision. Fortunately the Gothic Room at the Three Sisters offers a certain amount of atmosphere, but that could have been heightened significantly with proper lighting. The music is well chosen but it appears and disappears in a somewhat clunky manner, and the voiceover moments are a bit naff.

If Burtonesque creepiness is your thing, you’ll probably find that these are issues you can easily ignore in exchange for 45 minutes of fairly witty horror. If not, this probably isn’t the show for you. But for those of us who like our entertainment to come complete with excessive eyeliner, Molly Beth White is an interesting young theatremaker whose career may prove to be worth watching.

Carnival of Crows runs at The Free Sisters, 8 – 24 August (50 minutes)

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