Akhe Theatre, Mister Carmen

Review in Issue 17-2 | Summer 2005

Devised and performed by Akhe founder members Maxim Isaev and Pavel Semchenko, Mister Carmen is not so much an adaptation as an homage to Carmen – although it could be argued that in its circling around the character of Carmen (rather than placing her centre-stage), its exploration of the central theme of restraint versus freedom, and its passionate obsession with the power of words and the conjuring of names it has more in common with the original Prosper Merimee novella than with Bizet's opera or other interpretations.

Whilst less busy than previously seen works, Mister Carmen is a quintessential Akhe show and shares with Pooh-Prah and White Cabin delight in the earthly elements (Carmen and San Jose have their names evoked in smoke, light, water, chalk); an exploration of the possibilities of a theatre of engineering (as always, there are strings, ropes, pulleys, mechanised objects, primal puppetry); and a love of surreal slapstick. Without the female dynamic of those previous shows, Mister Carmen has more than a little in common with the company's anarchic cabaret show Plug & Play in which boyish bouffon clownery is allowed to reign.

One of the delights of seeing Akhe is the vicarious thrill of witnessing the mess they make and this show is no exception. Their work has its precedent in Pollock's action painting, Kantor's Emballages and Klein's Happenings. This is mucky, messy hands-on performance-art-cum-theatre and long may Akhe continue to dirty their hands in the name of art and entertainment.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2005

This article in the magazine

Issue 17-2
p. 27