Chickenshed! The very word conjures up joyful images in the thousands, probably millions of people around the world who know and admire this wonderful diverse and inclusive theatre and school. Chickenshed  – ‘Theatre changing lives’ is their slogan. And 2024 is the 50th anniversary of their beginnings in, literally, a chickenshed, before they were found and moved into their present site in Southgate, north London, in 1994.

Chickenshed’s latest offering is ‘Love from Carmen’, a riotously vibrant but never over-the-top adaptation of Georges Bizet’s opera ‘Carmen’ – which, by the way, was panned by audiences when it was first produced. Bizet claimed to have written a work ‘that is all clarity and vivacity, full of colour’, yet critics said it was ‘dull’ and ‘there are no melodies in it’. Poor Bizet died only months after the premiere, never knowing that he would later be acclaimed as a master and ‘Carmen’ would become one of the top three most performed operas in the world.

Would Bizet be pleased with Chickenshed’s treatment of the story and music? You bet your life he would. Of course it departs often from the original music and, instead of being sung, much of the performance is rap.

But it’s all so clever! Beautifully constructed, scored, scripted, directed and acted, this is Chickenshed at its best. The leads played and sang superbly, complemented by others in the cast. Not a single player failed to give of his or her best, and that best was top-rate. Nor did the number of people involved or on stage at any one time seem excessive – a fault to which other Chickenshed productions have been prone in the name of inclusivity.

If there are faults in the production of ‘Love from Carmen’ it is that Carmen’s role involves a lot of shrugging of shoulders and that the storyline is a little difficult to follow for anyone who doesn’t know the original ‘Carmen’.

But if you want a terrific evening being dazzled by brilliant colours and sounds, go and see ‘Love from Carmen’, quickly before its run ends on 23rd March.