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Carmen - The King’s Head Theatre (Review)


Review by Shanna Schreuder

AFTER winning the Olivier Award for La Boheme, the OperaUpClose company is back with a re-working of Bizet’s Carmen at The King’s Head Theatre in London.

As intimate as their other shows, this modern-day English version of the 19th-Century opera will shock traditional audiences as much as the original did when it was first performed back in the day, but its top-drawer performances and adlib humour are sure to enamour most.

The updated version sees Carmen as part of a north London gang with the imprisoned Escamillo as their leader. Making good use of the pub setting of The King’s Head, the show boldly begins at the front of house with Carmen entertaining the punters while her crew lift their valuables.

When a bar brawl breaks out the security guard on the door, in the form of Don Jose, intervenes and mistakenly drags Carmen off for questioning. Using her techniques of seduction she manages to convince him to let her go, and agrees to meet him for a drink later on.

Enter Escamillo who has managed to escape from prison. After embracing Carmen he goes on to tell his trusted gang about his break-out and how they can make it big by joining him on an upcoming drug deal.

Realising that this sudden change in circumstances will have a negative effect on her life, Carmen seeks to persuade Don Jose to flee with her. Of course, like most operas, the tragic end remains the same.

Christina Gill, in the title role of Carmen, delivers the sexy moves along with the mezzo-soprano voice, while Christopher Diffey’s Don Jose delivers the passion when required and Nicolas Dwyer’s Escamillo moves and sounds like a true toreador.

This Carmen proves that OperaUpClose has once again succeeded in creating a winning remake of a classic opera.

View production photos l Read the preview

Tickets: £16 – £25 – available from the box office on 020 7478 0160 or online at

Times: Tuesday – Saturday at 7.15pm, Sunday at 3pm.