Tired of UK politics? Bored of things that actually effect people’s lives in beloved Brittania? Need a bit of politically charged release? The answer: scapegoat the Americans. With musical theatre.
Feeling better already? Marvellous. Vote For Me is an all-singing, all-dancing presidential candidate election currently being staged in a new production at London Theatre Workshop. (That’s a fringe theatre above a pub unabashedly close to Chelsea on New King’s Road. It’s about as rah as fringe gets – but don’t let that put you off, it just means the wine is pretty decent and the toilets have nice hand soap.)
Vote For Me, written by Drew Fornarola and Scott Elmegreen, was originally presented at the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival. It is a simple Democrat (blue) vs Republican (red) staged television debate, which hams up the stereotypes in true musical fashion. The real delight is that each candidate is, in their own way, verging on (or tipping over into) ridiculous. No political biases here.
Highlights include a foreign policy pitch song about building Middle East Disney, a tap dancing number, glittery top hats, a climate policy based on the fact there’s ‘no global warming on Fox’, a spin-doctor with each candidate’s ‘opinions’ on file, and other halves meddling with smear campaigns. The satire on American cultural imperialism and the far right are especially on point.
It gets even more fabulous. You get to actually elect the President of the USA (so. much. power.) It has alternate endings, which only makes you want to go again to see what particular number you missed out on. Exactly how you make your mind up to cast your vote is completely up to you. In a post-show talk, director Dom O’Hanlon said in the Democrat-voting location of the New York theatre scene, the cast could except an 80% chance of the blues winning. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in our multi-party context. I suspect more people will vote for the more entertaining character rather than policy, although I could never have voted for a climate change denier however fictional.
The whole cast is fantastic – just over the top enough to constitute proper musical theatre, without overpowering the small space. Lucy Grainger, who plays Robyn the TV debate host, pulls off a number with a dizzying list of countries accompanied by an intricate flag dance. Top marks for memorisation! And the set design – full of starry American imagery – is beautifully polished, especially for a fringe production.
The Global Warming Song (original production):
Vote For Me is at London Theatre Workshop, New King’s Road until 23 May 2015. Find them on Twitter @LTWFulham and tweet with #Vote4MeLTW. Many thanks to Official Theatre for an awesome #LDNTheatreBloggers meet up.