Fringe preview: Sing For Your Life
No creature comforts in Charlie Tuesday Gates' unsettling new Fringe cabaret
This article is from 2015.
We all bear scars from childhood television puppets, which in retrospect were wildly inappopriate, and somewhat perverse. The mangy Hartley Hare springs to mind, not so much cute and cuddly as flea-infested, sleazy and a bit dissolute. Following on from this grotesque model, is Charlie Tuesday Gates' show Sing For Your Life at Underbelly for the Fringe.
Avenue Q this ain't. Deploying puppets which are 'scraped up roadkill', Gates takes her love of taxidermy and performance and creates a unique experience, in order to tackle perceptions of how we treat small animals. As Gates, a vegan artist, explains: 'We're challenging people to look at and reconsider the value of all living things, including our pets. The show is essentially about animal rights, but in a non-confrontational and hugely entertaining way. It's hilarious, unsettling and hard-hitting but accessible enough for the mainstream to enjoy, without feeling like they've joined some cult, tricking them through blazon entertainment.'
Gates started to research animal cruelty and was appalled by what she found. There is a strong moral core in her work. She adds: 'Someone mentioned a local gamery where I might find remains for art pieces. It was here that I saw a glimpse of the reality to the brutality. A torturous industry, where literally piles of the most beautiful creatures, stripped of their useful parts, had been tossed away as if their lives meant nothing. Traditional taxidermists create the illusion of life, whereas I was more interested in the reality of death and the things that are hidden from us'.
Creating such art has not been without its controversy. Gates has experienced some walk-outs. However, she says 'I haven't had as many as expected. It usually happens when the chickens come out and start singing Britney Spears' 'I'm A Slave 4 You' – it gets people every time. But many vegetarians, vegans and animal lovers have come … it's sardonic, ironic, but also very funny'.
Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, 8–30 Aug, 8.40pm, £11--£12 (£10--£11). Previews 6 & 7 Aug, £6.