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A Magazine for Sheffield

Here's Looking at UKIP, Theatre Deli

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Theatre Deli is becoming renowned for bringing shows and performances to Sheffield that dig deep into the foremost issues of the day, specifically those issues which can often leave us tongue-tied and struggling to express ourselves. Deli's current programme - titled Unity in Diversity - is their most extensive season to date. There's a heavy focus on politics and identity, and it explores an incredibly broad range of themes including marginalisation, mansplaining, adoption, racial fetishism, female masculinity, nationality and queer experience.

Tonight, Madeline Shann is encouraging us all to take a good hard look at Britain's problem with 'foreigners' and ask: is Great Britain really all that great? What is Britishness? How exactly do you love your country? And can you love a country that doesn't love you back?

Nicely exploiting Farage's old party for pun value, Here's Looking at UKIP kicks off with a probing look at the problematic lyrics of Rule, Britannia!, followed by some serious cake smashing and flower bashing to The White Stripes' I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself.

Until this point, the performance has been dialogue-free, but when Madeline finally speaks she does so with a quick wit and charm which belies the frustration and anger she feels in the face of racism, patriotism and British exceptionalism. And while she was clearly still bedding into the show, most noticeable by a few forgotten lines, Shann has lived experience and she's clearly done her research.

Despite the intense subject matter, there are some real laugh-out-loud moments throughout the performance including a hilarious round of Patriot Games, some mega fast rapping about 'the motherfucking English language' and a musical love letter to everyone who's ever indulged in punching Nazis. And just in case there are any fascists reading this review, the Nazis weren't all that. Just sayin'.

Shann says now is the time to 'Use your empathy and ingenuity to look beyond yourself and co-exist', before ending by telling us that 'Things are going to get harder. We need to make space and look after each other. The time is now.' Wise words indeed and ones we should all remember, and act upon.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)

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