THEATRE: CURTAIN CALLS

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The Independent Culture
Abandon your prejudices! OK, so the words "open-air" and "street theatre" don't automatically conjure images of dramatic sophistication. But tonight you can forget all thoughts of tired, white-faced mimes.

For one performance only you can thrill to Carmen Funebre, which stormed the 1995 Edinburgh Festival. Word of mouth was so astonishing that by the end of its run it was playing to crowds of more than 1,000 people.

What's most remarkable about this fiery, 40-minute theatrical stunner is that it's no feelgood piece of slapstick, but a thoroughly sombre piece about war. Sounds earnest? Forget it. As The Independent reported at the time, it's extraordinarily moving. "If you'd told me beforehand that a stilted Grim Reaper carrying a 10- foot pitchfork, or the sound of bells tolling as a stage-set burns could be more affecting than hours of news footage, I'd never have believed it. Strangely, it's true."

'Carmen Funebre', tonight, 11pm, outside the National Theatre, London SE1, free

David Benedict

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