City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Mr Carmen Review

By Jane Frere - Posted on 12 August 2012

Mr Carmen - production
Show details
Assembly Roxy
Russian Engineering Theatre AKHE
Running time: 
Maksim Isaev (concept and design), Pavel Semchenko (concept and design), Yana Tumina (dramaturge), Vyacheslav Gaivoronskiy (music), Andrey Sizintsev (music), Andrey Sizintsev (sound), Vadim Gololobov (light and management)
Maksim Isaev, Pavel Semchenko

With the darkness of Goya and hints of Chagall, two pan faced, black clad characters with touches of red and white and sporting splendid beards, eye up the audience nonchalantly as they enter to take their seats.

In a relentless duel between the protagonist and his alter ego, combat takes place in a  Heath Robertson arena of delightful contraptions and automata.

Their means of combat is to use their ingenuity to outdo the other by defiantly inscribing and gleefully erasing the names “Carmen” and “Jose” through exasperating means and multiple permutations.

Letters float in the air as they are projected onto the spray of coughed vinegar or wafting rose scented incense.  Bloodied consonants and numbers ooze through bandages bound on limbs.  Engaging the senses, the coffee, vinegar, and incense blends with the toxic smell of spray paint as Carmen is tagged onto a suspended black bin liner before morphing into something else.

Redolent of Commedia del arte and the violence of a Punch and Judy, there is no definitive story although elements from Merime’s novella Carmen, the destruction caused by obsessive love, jealousy and death, combined with an extraction of key words presented as symbolic objects, letters, cigars, a red rose, knives, ink, etc gives us a clue.

Emphasis should be made of the totality of the work with its seamless integration of sound, light and the visual. The actors Maksim Isaev, and Pavel Semchenko are both practising visual artists, who have worked from the outset with composer Vyacheslav Gaivoronskiy and sound technician Andrey Sizintsev to create an eclectic mix of sound with fragments of haunting jazz, techno rock and classical.

It is tempting to describe the piece as a kinetic art installation that can be appreciated not only by theatre goers, but equally by anyone who is interested in the arts. It is a mesmerizing poetic work of great beauty and inventiveness reminding us of the power of live theatre in its most simplistic form.

Dates: 2 -27 August (not 13 and 20), 6pm

Tickets: £12-£14 (£11-£12)