Carmen Disruption (Almeida Theatre, 19th May 2015)

In the programme for Carmen Disruption sits an article called 'Life of Solitude: A Loneliness Crisis is Looming', an article on how people are becoming increasingly disconnected and unhappy with their isolation. The play is an exploration of this crisis, a series of monologues, isolated people in a globalised society more socially connected than its ever been. Individuals whom carry the burden of their namesakes from Carmen - the burden of longing for what they cannot have, a desire for connection. However they drag the heartache from the opera into modern life, Carmen becoming a young rent boy, obsessively checking social media, desperate for affection. A definably memorable line, among all the beautiful poetry, was a line from Carmen after describing an act of vicious sexual cruelty from a client. He turns to the audience and tells them to not dare judge the client - because its just something people do. Any interaction is better than none.

Even two months later, little sections from the script pop into my head. Its beautifully written (as Stephens' work always is!) and inciteful - even though it doesn't feel like my life, its soulless european experience far more suited to someone more travelled than I. The 'traveller' within the play, the Singer, is suprisingly the least relatable - despite being the only character who is based on a real person. She has the most definable existence, a characterised Viktoria Vizin, whom endlessly travels from european city to city playing Carmen. Sharon Small's 'woman in distress' however is hard to sympathise with, her panicky abandonment and indefinable accent more irritating than emphasing.

Nevertheless, the production itself is beautiful in every way, and the Almeida is perfectly chosen for its 'fading opera house' feel. The bull onstage, that lays breathing its final breaths with a slow black blood seeping from it, epotomises many of the ominous themes - the possible death of europe with its financial crisis, the death of human connection in the rise of 'social' media, and the ever-dying death of Carmen.

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Apologies - I realise this play deserves so much more analysis than I have given it here, but I will hopefully be able to go into the depth it deserves once I have allowed it to resonate and be read many a time, and formulate into some original ideas of worth.

#carmendisruption #simonstephens #almeida