Carmen, King's Head Theatre - ★★★ - Until March 9, 2019


"Carmen, F*** you!" sings an angry (Don) Jose. This sums up the tone of this production: we are in 21st century London with a language to match. Mobile phones are frequently used and an electronic tag is featured at one point. Carmen is a minimum-waged NHS worker, Jose is a dissatisfied nurse in the same hospital and Escamillo an Arsenal player. In this stripped-down production for the tiny King's Head stage, only the three central characters remain. Musical accompaniment is provided by piano and keyboard, and the set design consists mainly of backdrop curtains. LOVE WILL SET YOU FREE (irony alert) appears in large Tracey Emin-Like writing above the stage. Unfortunately the drama of the opera is also minimised. Jose comes across as needy but sympathetic, whereas Carmen appears cold and calculating. Her sudden 'upgrade' to Escamillo appears based solely on material ambition. Any examination of a toxic relationship (or crime of passion) is too simplistic here. Strong vocal performances (especially by Robert Paterson as Jose) are engaging throughout and offset sometimes clumsy staging. The famous 'Habanera' and 'Toreador' are inventively re-configured, but in the end, this is a rather cartoon-like Carmen.

Reviewed by A.L.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:

Until March 9, 2019:
Feb 25-28, 7:00 pm
March 1-2 & 4-9, 7:00 pm 
March 2 & 9, also at 3:30 pm
King's Head Theatre
Nearest tube: Angel
https://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/?spektrix_bounce=true

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