The Lost Carnival, review: All the fun at the fairground

Polly Checkland Harding

Coming to Burrs Country Park for a total of four nights, The Lost Carnival proves a delight for kids.

Writing a review of a family event isn’t easy as an adult. Though The Lost Carnival has a bar in a caravan and, like a Pixar film, jokes for the grown ups, the magic of it is firmly aimed at children. So when you stand in front of the stage in the big top for the introduction to the show, and watch two actors explain the story of the Lost Carnival – how it rose then fell in its fortunes, and is now reliant on the energy and enchantment of the night to survive – it’s not really about noticing that their outfits are more costume box than theatre wardrobe, and that the puppet show is sweetly low-res. It’s about thinking back to when you too would have stood, delighted by a red-feathered phoenix and its glowing eyes, aching to leave the tent for the field beyond and get on with saving the carnival.

Each of the happenings had real charm – while being out late and amongst greenery also seemed to be thought pretty splendid

I watched kids leap-frogging across the grass after the strong man, and rolling their eyes at his foam dumbbell. The clown was another favourite, charging unsteadily through bubbles blown from a toy gun. Apart from some troubling cultural appropriation from a troupe of dancers in African costumes, each of the happenings had real charm – while being out late and amongst greenery also seemed to be thought pretty splendid by the kids. Food-wise, oven-fired pizzas and the wonderful Ginger’s Comfort Emporium ice cream van were highlights, but there were also fish and chips, paella and Mexican stands to choose from. And, when the The Lost Carnival came to it’s grand finish, a woman with golden transfers on her arms and three small children swirling around her ankles turned to me and said, “yeah, this is a night they’ll remember.”

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