Directed by visual artist Mark Holthusen, Corrido De Le Sangre is a 90-minute musical rendition of the story of a Corrido singer and his band, shot dead by a drug lord in Mexico who now, on the day of the dead, have returned to the land of the living to haunt their killer and tell their story. The story is one of darkness and sadness and at times of bitter black humour. But most strikingly the band tell a tale of immense beauty that paints a vivid yet mythical image of Mexico; palpable yet steeped in folklore, magic and ancient tradition. This tale is told entirely in song; the soundtrack is an extraordinary fusion of pre-war Berlin cabaret, anarchic opera and gypsy music. The three band members play an assortment of unusual instruments including the ukulele bass, the saw, a theremin, and a miniature guitar. It is Martyn Jaques’ striking high-pitched voice however that is sure to leave the most lasting impression.
Accompanying this extraordinary musicianship is an astonishing set of visuals projected onto the stage, designed by director Mark Holthusen. The visuals mesmerisingly create the effect of falling curtains, shadow puppetry and, in one particularly memorable moment, a cascade of kitsch style neon images. It would be nice to see some more elements of physical stage art in the production, particularly with the puppetry that makes a brief appearance in the play’s opening but is never returned to beyond the projections. Nevertheless the projections are remarkable and are undoubtedly deserved of equal recognition to the soundtrack on which production is focused. As exceptional as both the imagery and musicianship are, the show somehow unfortunately still feels incomplete. Perhaps this is because expectations of ‘theatre’ are too high for this particular performance, which is in effect an elaborately performed soundtrack. The small amount of acting there is, sometimes comes across as quite stunted and there is very little plot action to keep you engaged in the narrative. However, this not what the show is about, nor should it be, and once this realisation is come to, this show becomes a very satisfying and enjoyable performance from the Tiger Lillies from start to finish.
Written by @OscarLister