By all accounts You Need Me is a theatre group with strong credentials in finely crafted storytelling. Death Song is an ambitious piece centred around a family of illegal Mexican immigrants living in Nevada, twinned with parallel scenes of the Mexican father in prison awaiting the death penalty and talking to a British humanitarian volunteer.
The trouble is that despite a valiant effort, it just doesn't work. The space is very restrictive – the five cast members employ a convention where if they turn their back on the audience they are for all intents and purposes off the stage. However they also act as crew, moving the few props around, amid inter-scene motion sequences – the sum effect of which is it takes quite a while to work out what's actually going on.
The layout of the room is such that seated or laying down action is obscured to all but the front row, and it was impossible to ignore the sound of "Bittersweet Symphony" blaring in from the Udderbelly Pasture next door.
By the time the scene turns up that ties the two story arcs together, the lights come up and you find yourself wondering what just happened. Perhaps in another venue with fewer concessions made, this piece could shine.