DYSTOPIA fetishism may be all the rage at the moment but Armageddon is no excuse for a wafer thin plot, a lack of narrative cohesion and an absence of character depth. Partly based on Philip K Dick’s 1965 post-apocalyptic novel Dr Bloodmoney, Songs For The End Of The World “explores the line between music gig and theatre”, as Dom Coyote, the man behind the show, words it on his website.
Merging art forms is commendable, and for a while it was thrilling to hear Coyote and company attempt to construct a narrative entirely through song, but ultimately neither medium was strong enough to carry the show.
Our setting is New Albion, a grotesque exaggeration of austerity post-Brexit Britain owned and controlled by allpowerful corporation New Global. Jim Walters is an astronaut who, after Armageddon strikes, finds himself stuck in orbit around the decaying earth.
The most affecting moment of the show arrived when, with oxygen running out, he lamented the lost planet with a strummed acoustic number. There is a limit to the impact of this denouement, though – we know so little about Walters that it is difficult to summon a huge amount of sympathy for his plight (or that of the world he has left behind).
Supporting characters are unconvincing, from the generic resistance movement fighting against New Global to the maniacal preacher who vents reactionary, racist bile. A production cannot be said to have “contemporary resonances” simply because it vaguely references immigration and the overriding impression was that Songs For The End Of The World’s social critique was, like the plot, loose.
The show had nothing original or thought provoking to say about dystopia. Perhaps that wasn’t the point of Coyote’s production, but even then, the production’s more frivolous elements failed to hit home.
If this is the end of the world as we know it, we’re more screwed than we thought.