Home Theatre, Manchester; Thursday 26th April, 2018
A mysterious border town on the Mexican frontier: buzzing crickets chirp away in the night as three ghostly figures silently emerge from the desert wasteland. Today is the Day of the Dead and this macabre trio have risen from their graves to tell the pitiful tale of how they came to meet their violent ends.
Corrido de la Sangre is an epic tale of love and loss, delivered entirely in the form of song by punk-cabaret performers The Tiger Lillies.
Martin Jacques takes the performing lead, opening the show with a heartbreaking tale of how he was orphaned at the age of 12 and forced to play the accordion in order to earn a few pesos.
What follows is a rags to riches tale of unrequited love, the formation of a performing band, a slow descent into the criminal world of drug smugglers, and, ultimately, a violent death to end it all.
The music is fantastic, a soothing mix of jazzy cabaret with plenty of deep, soulful singing from Jacques, who delivers it all in a rather amusing falsetto squeal. Corrido de la Sangre is good enough to be a musical performance on its own, but when the accompanying theme and story are added it transforms into something quite stunning.
Though the lyrics and the melodies drive the storytelling forward, a whole extra layer of pleasure is added by the puppetry and animation playing out in the background – all of it just sparse enough to immediately compel the imagination to fill in the gaps. The resultant experience is predominantly that of a sad story of loss and death, yet the whole show seems to be delivered as an otherwise jolly and upbeat musical performance.
Corrido de la Sangre is such an incredibly sad and moving story, one which is so artistically and skilfully told that you don’t want the end to come because you’re enjoying the story as much as you’re enjoying the way its being told. So much effort must have gone in to perfecting and connecting the various components of this show yet, as with the best of performances, it all just looks so effortless and simple.
|Visual pleasure||Beautiful set composed of tall curtains onto which animations were projected. While the band concentrated on playing their instruments, the backdrop very subtly set the scene and kept the story flowing. Costumes and face painting were also brilliant, halfway between comedic and sinister.||5|
|Auditory pleasure||This was good enough to be a musical performance on its own, each song seemed to create a very individual and distinct mood, and they were all so catchy.||5|
|Architecture & Theme||Brilliantly constructed show which raises a question about which came first: the songs or the plotline?||4|
|Artistic delivery||Stunning performances from all three members of the cast, predominantly as musicians, it was mesmerising watching some of it, particularly the way the saw was being coerced into producing such haunting, ghostly sounds.||5|
|Overall impact||This is effectively a musical, yet a series of songs strung together tell such a captivating story – far better than some plays that have no musical input at all.||4|
|0||Detrimental – This aspect of the performance was so bad that it made the overall experience worse|
|1||Weak – This aspect of the performance was poor|
|2||Adequate – This aspect of the performance was perfectly acceptable, though nothing special|
|3||Good – This aspect of the performance was above average, it pleased in some way|
|4||Excellent – This aspect of the performance was much better than normal, it was impressive|
|5||Awe-inspiring – This aspect of the performance was exceptional, new boundaries were pushed.|