Orlando Bloom stars as Rycroft Philostrate, or Philo, in Travis Beacham’s new fantasy series, Carnival Row. The intricate plot revolves around Philo, an investigator with secrets, who is attempting to solve a series of murders. His life is made more complicated when he discovers a former lover, Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne), has recently arrived in his city.
Beacham created Carnival Row in a world where Faerie creatures live among humans in a post-Industrial Revolution city. Beacham’s Victorian-esque city, the Burgue, has taken in many types of creatures who have escaped from the warfare in their own lands. The creatures are faced with prejudice and work as servants or are encouraged to stay in their own area of the city, Carnival Row.
The sets and the special effects are lavish and realistic, bringing the viewer into this fantastic world. The significant characters, from humans to pixies to pucks, are complex and diverse, ranging from the leaders of the city and the wealthy elite to the newest immigrants and the underworld of criminals.
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It is the characters who bring the story to life. Bloom is at his best as the conflicted Philo; Vignette is a fighter, undaunted in the face of adversity. Jonah Breakspear (Arty Froushan) is the son of a politician, used as a pawn in the battle for power. Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant) is a wealthy young woman trying to save her family fortune. Agreus Astrayon (David Gyasi) is a puck who has made a fortune and is working to gain admittance to the elite society of the city.
While the setting and the characters are vibrant and fantastic, the themes of this series make it relevant. There is not only forbidden love and betrayal, but also prejudice and bigotry. The immigrants to the Burgue can be seen trying to assimilate into the city and its customs while also trying to maintain their own beliefs and identity. The politicians appear to be more interested in increasing their own power than in representing the interests of the citizens of the city.