Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sunday Snap - Vote For Me: The Musical Debate

If you're anything like me, you might be a little bit sick of politics and voting and election news right now. (Doesn't this election seem to have been going on for the entirety of the past 5 years???) But I am afraid that I am now going to continue on this topic a little longer.

I clearly wanted some extra politics in my life on Thursday evening though, when, instead of watching the results come in, I attended a political debate with a lovely group of #LDNTheatreBloggers. A very different political debate. With music and singing and dancing. And with an interactive element where I had to vote for the second time that day. It was satisfying that this time, the person who won was actually who I voted for.

London Theatre Workshops's Vote for me: The Musical Debate really is what it says on the tin. Based on US politics rather than British, the debate is in the last stages of the fictional American election between the Republican, (Janet Tilghman played by Emily Lynne) and Democrat (Buddy Rounsaville played by Hans Rye) candidates. They answer a series of questions, mostly through song, and then you are given a chance to vote for your favourite at the end.

Lucy Grainger (Photo Courtesy of LTW)
The cosy setting within the Eel Brook Pub in Fulham and the small cast, consisting of only 6 people, both work to make the production feel extremely intimate. There was basically no room for error as any mistakes from anyone involved (whether this be within the performance itself, the behind-the-scenes lighting or music or the staging by the director) would have been glaringly obvious. Joining Lynne and Rye, were Arvid Larsen and Jennie Jacobs, who played the partners of the candidates, and were at times both supportive and despairing over each candidate's progress. Plus Joe Leather played The Advisor who was attempting to help each candidate to victory (or at least not make a fool of themselves) in a truly hilarious way. And finally this was all controlled by compere of the debate Robyn Fielder, played by Lucy Grainger. What a trooper she is...all 6 of the cast were wonderful but Grainger's ability was obvious when, at the same time as performing a dance routine with flags, she reeled off a whole list of countries who's vote turnout was higher than the USA. I can't even remember how many countries that totalled, let alone what they were called. But it was 130-something and incredibly impressive.

Company (Photo courtesy of LTW)
Written by americans the humour is very in your face compared to most British theatre so it may not be everyone's cup of tea but it really made me giggle. And anything that makes light of politics, which I think takes itself far too seriously, is a winner in my book. Plus there is so much more to it as well - everything you could ever want is included. Tap dancing with umbrellas, a tango, a boxing ring, and some very surprising answers on how to solve all the world's problems

The voting at the end is a wonderful element too, adding an interesting interactive nature to it. In our show the final score was 16-17 to the Republicans which made me suspicious that it was a fix but they did in fact have two alternative endings. It illustrated for me just how important your vote is and how much it counts for. If I hadn't voted in our own General Election, I would have been left feeling horrendously guilty particularly after their rousing song 'Vote.' But I did in both elections and it made a difference. And that is an important overriding message that you should definitely remember.

Company (Photo Courtesy of LTW)

Thank you so much to Official Theatre and London Theatre Workshop for inviting me to Vote For Me. It runs until the 23rd May at Eel Brook Pub, Fulham.  

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