Many have choreographed it: in recent times, Alberto Alonso, John Cranko, even Mats Ek. And who could forget Roland Petit’s sizzling Carmen? But Susana Garcia is no Zizi Jeanmaire and Ramón Oller’s choreography, a hybrid of contemporary dance with a fling of flamenco, is, to say the least, repetitive.

Here Carmen is a plump, oversexed teenager flaunting her hormones. With her equally sex-driven colleagues, she slinks and tumbles round the roof of the cigarette factory where they work, suggestively posing and prancing. And if things get a bit hot and heavy, well, you know teenagers.

Weaving through this is Fate in the form of a gypsy, Mari Carmen Garcia, executing smatterings of flamenco steps, ostensibly assisting the action at strategic moments of what’s left of the plot but actually most of the time impeding it. As Vincente Palomo, a particularly woebegone José, unhappily paws her, Carmen doesn’t do much except wriggle out of most of the scanties she’s wearing. Micaela (Sau-Ching Wong) in a jealous fit chucks a bucket of water over her. Bedraggled, Carmen disappears through the window from which she made her first entrance to reappear later, fully dressed and flaunting a cigar and a fringed shawl. She still looks like a kid playing dress-up.

A score that uneasily integrates bits and pieces of Bizet with the Spanish pop composer Martirio builds to a climax with Christian Lozano’s entrance as the Torero. Here’s someone who can make Carmen and the audience sit up with his lean height, elegant bearing and, at last, genuine Spanish movement, performed with every flourish one might expect of a bullfighter. But the expected tragic climax that should conclude the piece lapses as he disappears into the shadows. Instead of confrontations and a knifing, water is turned on from a rooftop tower. It gushes over a dying Carmen, who expires in sexy wetness. The exact significance of this particular plot twist is obscure. But so are all the other misrepresentations of a Carmen that left one half hoping for at least one jolly Jota to cheer things up.
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