Pursuit of Carmen becomes game of theatrical graffiti in stunning adaptation
This article is from 2012.
Try as she might, Bizet’s Carmen can never throw off her determined suitor, Don José. Wherever she runs, he follows, unshakeable in his affections. Don José is the stalker par excellence.
In the hands of AKHE: Engineering Theatre, this relentless pursuit becomes a game of theatrical graffiti. Carmen’s name appears; José’s forever follows.
If graffiti is about leaving one’s mark, tagging surfaces to say, ‘I Woz ‘Ere,’ theatre is oppositely ephemeral. Maksim Isaev and Pavel Semchenko ingeniously conjure the two names: in semaphore and squirty cream, in vinegar coughed into lights and wisps of scented smoke. Roses become paintbrushes. Cigarettes become quills. The two names materialise then vanish: ever-elusive, yet always incapable of escaping each other. José’s knife finally, inevitably, flies into Carmen’s chest of its own accord, as if pulled in by her gravitational force.
The sheer invention is astonishing, particularly when one-upmanship really kicks in, and AKHE’s many Rube Goldberg contraptions seem to reconfigure the order of things. So too is the show’s sensuality: smells sweet and sour fill the auditorium, somehow catching the essence of Bizet’s plot by themselves. Just stunning.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 27 Aug (not 13, 20), 6pm, £12–£14 (£11–£12).