Songs for the End of the World is a wondrous mix of song and storytelling. A combination of Kneehigh and Little Bulb talents, the performers create a dystopian world set in New Albion; a world with so few ‘safe zones’ that the human race look to Mars to provide a new home for the remaining inhabitants of Earth.
With a five-piece band, Dom Coyote and the Bloodmonkeys sing of life in Ashley Coombe- a safe zone with all the surface niceties of a home counties village. Quite quickly this picture perfect place is seen for all it’s Big Brother reality, with the controlling New Global Inc. governing every aspect of the residents lives.
One resident, the rebellious teenager, Betty (played by the charming Milly Oldfield) takes up against New Global and uses music to challenge their tyrannical rule.
Other residents we meet are more inclined to accept the words of New Global and, indeed, the words of God. In a fantastic moment of character formation, we see John Biddle become a neurotic old biddy; stepping into her pinkly-matched outfit on stage and then preaching to the audience from the pages of her own, adulterated bible.
The characters in this piece are all finely wrought but also wonderfully mad. It’s a credit to the band/cast that they manage to weave all of these characters together in such a seamless story. The story’s title ‘Songs for The End of World’ comes from an entirely different character, Jim Walters, who is the first man to be blasted into space to set up a colony on Mars, and it’s his overarching crooning (by the fantastically gifted Dom Coyote) that ties the whole piece together.
I have no doubt that this show will continue on to other venues, so if it comes to a safe zone near you, then I definitely recommend watching it.