Before you assume that I’ve joined the UK Independence Party, do not fret. By assuming, you’re making an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’. Thanks Joe Lycett for that joke, I love it, and I shall be using it many, many more times in the future. When I was at the Edinburgh Fringe, I went to see UKIP the Musical with one of my best friends from Sixth Form. Her name is Lilly, and she’s a lovely, lovely lass! A couple of weeks before I went up to the Fringe, Lilly messaged me asking if we could meet up and I was so excited! I haven’t seen Lilly since my A Level Results Day last year, plus she’s currently studying a degree in Forensic Anthropology at Dundee University, so it’s not easy for her to travel the length of the country for a little weekend break to see all of us studying in England. I also knew that going to see UKIP the Musical was the perfect choice for us. We both love a bit of political satire, as well as going to see musicals and shows so I knew this was the perfect choice. Also, I’d heard about UKIP the Musical for a good few months before the Fringe, so I knew that as soon as I was going, I had to snap up a ticket! I’m glad I did, as the run has now sold out, just showing how well the musical is doing. It also shows just how important it is that a successful show at the Fringe must be topical and resonate with the general public. UKIP definitely does this; it’s the biggest political phenomenon of the 21st century, and the musical definitely capitalised on this.
Hell Bent Theatre, the producers of UKIP the Musical define the show as thus:
“UKIP! The Musical is a rollicking satirical swipe at one of the most radical political parties of our time. Witty and irreverent, this exuberant new musical features a host of original and appallingly catchy songs including Bongo Bongo Land, Europa you Raped Her and the anthem, Let’s Pull Up The Drawbridge”.
The plot line for the show is simple, which is perfect for the show as it does not complicate political matters. Is this a backlash at the thick, simple minds of UKIP’s voters? The plot sees Nigel Farage being uncertain of how to rescue Britain from the clutches of Europe. However, once Farage is visited by the ghosts of Churchill and Thatcher, he finds a way to win over the public. He gains the confidence to speak out to the public, even if his ideas aren’t necessarily constructed in such a way that Miliband, Clegg and Cameron aim to present their ideas. However, he watches his plan to save Britannia backfire on him. The show is great in depicting many personas that have dominated the British political press. Throughout the show, we meet the leaders (or leaders of the 2015 general election) for the main parties, as well as Boris Johnson. All the characters are heavily exaggerated, and I was cackling when Nick Clegg did not speak, and instead was presented by doing Cameron’s nails. If you were unsure of the power relationship between Cameron and Clegg prior to watching the show, you’d definitely know how they’re viewed by the press by the end of the show.
At the start of the show, we see all the cast members in the base outfit of a boater hat, blue and white striped shirt and nude colour trousers. By having such a simplistic outfit, it exuded ‘Great British’ standards. But, once cast members took on alternate roles, it was clearly differentiated through pieces of clothing, rather than a whole outfit change. The only outfit I would have personally changed is to have Thatcher in a cardigan rather than a blazer, but I know she is the ‘Iron Lady’ and this did help to convey her as a hard character. Also, the woman who played Margaret Thatcher is an alumni of my old theatre school, but I only found this out once the show was over. In hindsight, it was very clear as she was the lead dancer, and this is something that West End kids pushes!
Very early on into the show, we are welcomed to Nigel Farage, and I can’t quite express the likeness of Farage to Darren Benedict, who got to play the party’s leader. Also, Nigel Farage flirted with me… I mean, what else could I want for a Wednesday afternoon during the Fringe? According to Hell Bent Theatre’s website, they have a willingness to lampoon and bombard any target who align with their creative approach. Farage was definitely made to be the jester of the show, something which has already been hit on by the media, but due to the devised nature of the musical, it could be exaggerated to greater heights! This made him, Godfrey Bloom and the presentation of ‘America’ and ‘Russia’ even more ignorant.
They state that there’s a lot of laughter in their working process, and this was clear throughout the show. The bond between all the cast members was great, and they all knew exactly where each member was going; beaming with smiles throughout the entire show. This was especially in the case in the number ‘Bongo Bongo Land’, which in my opinion was done with a Book of Mormon style. As you may know, Book of Mormon is the king of underpinning satire in a musical, and this number was very similar to ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’. The UKIP Calypso really did exist in this show! This atmosphere was translated into the anthemic song, which we were all encouraged to sing along to. I just couldn’t sing along to a UKIP based song, it just didn’t feel right. But, plenty of people were. I was giggling along too much to the repeated line of ‘Fuck off, back to your own place, go back where you belong’. (Sorry for the cursing there). They even had a banner where all the words were printed on! The crass racism of UKIP was prevalent throughout the entire show, and this was obviously expected but I just couldn’t join in. As well as this, there were little jokes pointed towards Adolf Hitler; there were just enough to tie in the relations between the NSDAP and UKIP, but not too many that the show became just another way to remember Hitler and Nazism. The show was about UKIP, and Farage and ‘that German woman’ were most definitely the star of the show.
Although the show was hilarious, it’s impossible to steer away from the fact that all of the cast members were extremely talented. Hell Bent Theatre Company is jam-packed full of RADA members, and it was clear throughout the show that they’ve all been professionally trained. There were no weak links, from Farage to the musicians to the tech crew, the whole show was seamless throughout, and I’m certain that this is not the end of UKIP the Musical! The show took us from Farage’s early beginnings as a political candidate to the 2015 General Election and its dreams, where he won 40 million votes. This show could then become a two-act musical, with the second half being post 2015 General Election and him in Europe with the second referendum of whether we stay in or out of the EU. Jean Claude Junker was briefly mentioned in the show, but his character could be extended into Act 2! I’d be very excited if the show was to go further, and I’d definitely go and see its greater works in progress.
I’d review the show as a British flag. Obviously. The show conveyed the British patriotism of the UK Independence Party to a tea (yes, I have used a cup of tea there as a pun). The show also used Nicola Sturgeon as a ‘Braveheart’ character, which really got the Scottish giggling. In fact, I think the reference to Scottish politics got the greatest applause as it joked at how slim Scottish attention in British parliament really is. It was very interesting to watch this show in Scotland, and it was definitely received very well! I wonder how it’d be received in Thanet and Slough? Now, I can’t believe this is a song to round out a blogpost, but it has to be. Here is THE UKIP Calypso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7QYJ7pVhUo
If you want to check out the musical, buy your tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/ukip-the-musical