Desultorily directed by Cheryl Denson, Carnival drags in spots and could use some pruning and a little revisionist thinking. It might be interesting (and perhaps even more credible, and a damned sight more provocative) to have Paul played as a woman with a crush on Lili. Perhaps that way Lili's general obtuseness about what is going on with the puppets wouldn't seem so far-fetched. Or perhaps Lili could be a man, or even a man masquerading as a woman, which would be consistent with the theme of people needing masks to communicate with each other.
Of course, you could then say "Hi Lili, Hi Lo" to any future financial contributions the good people of Irving would be making to Lyric Stage, which would be a blow for those to whom the American Musical is catnip.