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World of Mirth' details dark world of carnival



If you want to experience something like the nightmare that the scoundrels on Wall Street have been going through, go see Ghostlight Theatre Club's production of Murphy Guyer's "World of Mirth," continuing Friday and Saturday at the Paseo's a.k.a. gallery.

The play takes place on the midway of Kaspar Kelly's World of Mirth, a traveling carnival one might see at the state fair. On stage are the "stores," as carnival businesses are known, of the Wild Woman of Borneo, Oscar the Frog Boy and Sweeney, an insult-comic clown in a dunk tank. Oscar, a deformed man without use of his arms or legs who had taught himself to roll a cigarette with his mouth, committed suicide a few days before the action of the play begins.

The titles of both the play and the carnival are ironic. This world is about as mirthless as it can get. Elaborately mirthless. Malevolently mirthless. Profanely mirthless. Carnival life is tough. They have had 10 washouts in the past 14 days; equipment breaks down constantly; and the carnival is subject to the scrutiny "? and open palm "? of the fire inspector, who has the authority to shut down the show, making a marginally profitable business even harder.

In the hands of a lesser cast, this play could be unbearable, but director Lance Garrett has assembled a group of Ghostlight regulars who pull off this psycho ward of a play with a certain disturbing flair.

 "World of Mirth" will not change the course of Western drama. It won't even stay with you for very long, but, as with a trip to the fair, you can't ignore it while it's before your very eyes. During the first act, not much seems to be happening, but in the second act, a couple of "a-ha!" moments reveal a plot that has been developing surreptitiously.

Although "World of Mirth" does not add up to a heck of a lot, some individual performances in the production are outstanding. The play centers on Sweeney, played with startling


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