Review: Carnival Round the Central Figure

HOUSTON—Sometimes when a piece of theater challenges me, I look for answers in the play’s title. So soon after seeing the Mildred’s Umbrella regional premiere of Carnival Round the Central Figure, I sought meaning from carnivals.

In the U.S, we tend to think of carnivals as a kind of temporary low-rate amusement park, where we can take a mildly scary ride, eat something fried and maybe visit a spooky funhouse. But in many places, Carnival is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the day the pious ate the fat in the larder before fasting for Lent. Thinking of this I left the Studio 101 theater wondering just what type carnival ride playwright Diana Amsterdam had taken me on.

The play is like a funhouse that never lets the audience find its balance. It does contain a linear narrative—a simple story about how a young woman deals with a dying friend. However, Kate’s tale is fractured into jagged pieces, leaving the audience to put the puzzle together.

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