Review: Carmen Disruption


As a friend said before seeing this updated version of the opera, "Why? There are enough versions of Carmen to sink a ship." Playwright Simon Stephens - whose stage adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has become this hard-hitting writer's best known work - does a sterling job in justifying yet another.

Here, the tale becomes quite literally urban myth. Stephens's five modern characters each narrate their own interweaving time-lines with stories that chime with the work that inspired this play. Sharon Small's Singer is an opera star who is jaded and disorientated by the routine of playing the same role in different cities; John Light's Escamillo is an international broker on the verge of losing everything, and Don José (a compelling Noma Dumezweni) is a cab driver with an estranged son and a dangerous debt to pay. Carmen is the rent boy whose sexual encounter in a hotel leaves him physically and emotionally damaged.

But the elephant in the room is a downed, barely breathing bull that recalls Carmen's powerful place in our culture, and possibly evokes a teetering Europe, too.

Michael Longhurst directs the human traffic around the beast with precision. But as to whether this disrupted Carmen justifies the imagination spent, is hard to say. At worst, not quite. At best, just.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive