AKHE – Russian Engineering Theatre
You don’t need to know the plot of Mérimée’s or Bizet’s Carmen to understand or appreciate this reinterpretation or extraction done by the Russian Engineering Theatre.
Not since the experimental theatre of the 60s and 70s had a production been so raw, risky and edgy. The two men, actors or mimes, continually build and reconstruct the space until it is littered with everything from candles to electronic merry-go-round on which they have hung representatives of José and Carmen, circling the playing area throughout the hour.
It is these constructions, these feats of engineering, that keeps the action moving and the audience mesmerized. But, because the performers rely on these stunts like trying to light cut up and rolled up rose petals, there are bound to be things to go wrong.
Necessarily, this works for instead of against the performer as the audience holds their breath as Carmen, who has dropped off this carousel, must be picked up and rehung. The names of Carmen and José are repeated in some of the most unusual ways, always reminding us of the plot when we are lost in the mechanics.
Although much is expected of the audience, this is well worth seeing, and not just for the novelty.
Reviewer: Catherine Lamm