Interview: Elle Dillon Reams of UKIP The Musical

Elle Dillon Reams is currently up in Edinburgh reviewing for LGBTQ Arts, she’s also performing in the show UKIP The Musical up there.  This week, I managed to catch up with her to find out a little about their show.

1. Who is behind the writing for UKIP the musical?  And can you tell us a little of their inspiration?

The show is Hell Bent theatre’s debut production and was written by Cath Day. It began as an idea when she was studying for an MA at RADA/ Birkbeck two years ago (where she met the director of the show Jessica Williams) and she ended up writing it as her dissertation. Cath was inspired by a conversation she had with relatives who were voting UKIP in the European elections. These were people who had always been staunchly left wing; apparently Cath had quite an argument with them! Nevertheless it got her thinking about the rise in popularity of UKIP, the reasons behind it. She was also interested in the lack of political satire on the stage in Britain, and was interested in why satirical musicals seemed to be predominantly American (Avenue Q, The Book Of Mormon, Urinetown), She’s a huge fan of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), she really likes that kind of biting satire which takes a swipe at everyone and anything. UKIP! The Musical was born!

2.  What were rehearsals like?
As a piece of predominantly underfunded new writing, Hell Bent Theatre was keen to be as accommodating as possible to their company of actors. We rehearsed two evenings a week and one full day every weekend. It’s been hard work but every single rehearsal, without fail, left my hysterically laughing to the point of tears! It’s been a really fun project to work on. 

3. Is it made for a ‘lefty’ audience?
Absolutely not. If it’s made for any audience at all, it’s for an open-minded and intellectually curious audience. The show takes a swipe at all political parties, their inability to address the concerns of voters head-on and the expediency of politicians who are willing to do and say anything in order to get into power. No-one escapes uncriticised! Some on-line comments criticised us for making Nigel rather hapless, even verging on the lovable. To that we would say that you have to care about your leading man – you don’t have to like him – but you do have to care about him, even if he is the anti-hero.

4. What do you hope audiences will take away from watching?
We want people to engage with the ideas explored. They’ve have been leaving the show on a real high, buzzing from the music and the sheer in your face thwack of the energy and pace of the show. They’ve then been staying up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning discussing politics and getting quite heated! As one audience member commented ‘I came face to face with my own prejudices and was quite shocked with what I saw’. What’s also really great is that it seems to be appealing to different generations. We’ve had audiences from ages 16-80 every day. Bottom line is that people want to be stimulated made to think and entertained. UKIP! The Musical does all that, and more. It’s a modern-day Oh What A Lovely War!

5. What are the key underlying themes to the piece?
Love (Nigel’s love for his country and his wife!)
Political expediency and opportunism
6. Where can we find you in Edinburgh?
At The Space at Surgeons’ Hall in the Grand Hall every day at 3.10pm.
7. Where can we follow UKIP the Musical on social media?
@HellBentTheatre #UKIPTheMusical

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