Cosmic everymen occupying a perch roughly midway between Vladimir and Estragon and Laurel and Hardy, the Creative Martyrs specialise in satirical songs on ukulele and cello, and the explicit nudging of their audience’s political conscience. Often on target, their past work has at times been limited by expressive literal-mindedness: a number called ‘Fascists Sing Love Songs Too’, for instance, rather than a love song composed from the perspective of a fascist. There can be an awkward, self-conscious air to such a WYSIWYG sensibility but ‘After the Apocalypse’ makes a virtue of it, to fascinating effect. The end-of-the-world opening number sets out the stall in terms of form and content, setting up a story that locates us under the roof of the cabaret after the apocalypse and engineering musical collaboration from the audience that establishes the complicity of all present in the enterprise at hand. That enterprise, it turns out, is politics in its purest form: given a clean slate, what kind of society do we want to make? How can a crumbling music hall become a design for life? There’s still a fair bit of hand-holding in the evening’s progression but it rates highly on music, humour, structure and surprise – and as a demonstration of the way cabaret’s uniquely collaborative form functions as a microcosm of life, it’s a provocative pleasure. Oh, and there are zombies, too.
And if you like the sound of this, try:
The amazing ‘Tomás Ford: Electric Cabaret’ – very different to the Creative Martrys in style but just as insistent that without your active collaboration, the show can’t go on.
For more from Ben Walters in Edinburgh, follow him @not_television