Circus Animals begins with a really promising opening sequence. The song and dance feel integral to the New Orleans setting’s identity and history, as well as being fun and evocative. The writer does a great job of staging these early scenes especially, giving a firm impression of tone in New Orleans and, later, the circus life without feeling overwritten. Outside of the introduction, the plot reads strongest through the second half, where the pitch really takes form through more exciting adventure. Beginning with Molly but extending to the ensemble, the character’s internal conflicts are consistently established with clarity and never fail to evoke sympathy for the likable cast. It’s compelling that each of the animal characters are brought together by loss and love, outcasts united in this colorful carnival world. Some of the peripheral characters — like the Herons — are truly hilarious, but Morton is an especially endearing comic relief. The dialogue throughout is appropriately amusing for a young audience. And yet, despite the silliness, there’s a gravity to the script’s voice that takes its own narrative seriously and grants authenticity to its pathos. 

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