Death Song

Death Song
Udderbelly’s Pasture (Venue 300)
3 stars ***

LIKE A POWERFUL, atmospheric footnote to TEAM of New York’s huge Fringe hit Mission Drift, this latest show from the Newbury-based but internationally-connected You Need Me company is set in a trailer park on the edge of Las Vegas, where illegal migrants from Mexico compete with poor white people for scarce, badly-paid work, and the rule of law hardly applies. Seen from the perspective of a girl on the verge of puberty whose father is an illegal migrant – and using every dramatic square inch of a small, conventional studio theatre space, including the aisles and the back rows beside the lighting box – the story involves a love-affair between the father and an American girl which ends in furious violence, when he realises that while he has been distracted by his new love, his daughter has begun a relationship behind his back.

In the end, Death Song never achieves a clear enough focus to full justice to the steamy, threatening atmosphere it creates. It touches on themes of migration, child abuse, teenage alienation, violent crime and the death penalty, without fully committing itself to any one of them. At its best, though, it features some memorably powerful acting; and brings to the Fringe a strong and angry Latino voice, the voice of an emerging America that is rarely heard at all in British theatre, least of all in Edinburgh in August.

Joyce McMillan
Until 28 August
p. 255



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