A Debate Of Presidential Proportions, In A Pub
Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆
Vote For Me is a no-holds-barred musical comedy showcasing the good, bad and ugly of American politics. Devised as a 'presidential debate' by a talented cast of six (plus pianist), the show serves up topical issues through a hilarious set of condensed song and dance numbers.
Heated opinions on subjects from climate change to marriage equality and foreign policy are vetted by the two presidential hopefuls: Democrat Janet Tilghman (Emily Lynne) and Republican, Buddy Rounsaville (Hans Rye). The characters are caricatured to an absurd degree with Janet a pseudo-neurotic feminist juxtaposed nicely against Buddy’s stereotypically unremarkable conservative. But it’s The Advisor (Joe Leather) who impresses most, shifting as easily as a swing state in his counsel to both parties. Robyn Fiedler (Lucy Grainger), who keeps the debate flowing as the NBS moderator, also scores points with a well-memorised song listing the countries with higher voter turnout than the US (in case you were wondering, there are 139).
The candidate’s spouses also enliven the debate, particularly Roger Tilghman (Arvid Larsen) who in his crowd-pleasing song First First Lady, professes to accept the double standards that will be imposed upon him as the first male presidential spouse. This contrasts with Amy Rounsaville (Jennie Jacobs) who wants the White House at whatever cost.
The show’s cheeky tunes pack a lot of surprises amid the laughs; Spend More Money alludes to the Democrats’ fiscal irresponsibility, while The Global Warming Song immortalises the Republicans’ reliance on Fox News for their ‘facts’. There’s also fun to be had in the proposal of a Middle East Disneyland as a solution to the ongoing crisis there.
While the humour is clever and the cast immensely talented, the show stops short of a notorious lambasting of electoral debates and could have prodded a bit deeper. And unlike actual US elections, the winner is determined at show end by a democratic vote from the audience. If they did it that way for the real thing, maybe there'd be a higher turnout.
By Sophia Shluger
Vote For Me is on at the London Theatre Workshop, 65 New King's Road SW6, and runs until 23 May. Tickets £15. Londonist saw the show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 16 May 2015