Review: The musical where road kill becomes the star of the show

Sing for your life




By Peter May

When the tagline for a new show says you may be questioning your morals, you can’t help but seek it out. Sing for your life certainly does that because there isn’t many or any that I know of where the main cast characters are dead animals being given new life as puppets in a musical. The whole premise may seem rather dark but the result is actually rather hilarious.

40basiltwist1201eThe brainchild behind this unique idea is taxidermist artist Charlie Tuesday Gates (who ironically is a vegan) who has created pieces for celebrities such as Elton John and Beyonce. It is quite a short musical only running just over an hour so the story is rather simple. It begins with a dog that is clearly unloved by his owner who gets wooed by a sycophantic badger keen to get the perky pooch to be the new star of his underground cabaret show.

Low on audience numbers, but high in musical numbers, a selection of animals takes to the stage, backed with a live band to convince him to join them. The sly badger tries his hand at Cher’s hit ‘Bang, bang my baby shot me down’, and a chorus line of chickens follow with a rendition of Britney Spear’s ‘I’m a slave for you’’.

The puppets here are actually genuine road kill, old beloved pets or animals Charlie has sourced from Gumtree website performed bunraku-style. Who knew Gumtree even sold dead animals? Never the less they have all been given a thorough makeover with big comical eyes and felt mouths, which adds to their anthropomorphised characteristics. The effect goes into overdrive in a scene where a character actually sheds her skin for a solo song, displaying her figure of glistening viscera and musculature.

This is clearly not highbrow stuff, although it’s not for children either, it makes no apologies for its shock value. The show’s titular anthem contains the rousing summons: “Sing for cruelty, sing for pain, /Sing for the things that drive you insane”. The result is a powerful howl of injustice with a distinctive creativity and grotesque charm all its own.

Sing For Your Life is on as part of the Vault Festival at the Vaults, Leake Street, until Sunday March 8 2015. , 02074019603