Camden Fringe preview: INVASION!

Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society bring new show INVASION! An Alien Musical.

We chatted to writers Jasper Robin and Jon Powell, and composer Lily Blundell, to find out more about the musical that will give you “a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and a monster on your back”.

Where: Camden People’s Theatre

When: 31 Jul-3 Aug, 9pm

Ticket link:

Production photo for INVASION!

What’s special about being part of the Camden Fringe?

Jasper: It’s a fantastic place to experiment with new work in an established ecosystem without the exponentially increasing financial stakes of Edinburgh. I performed in a Camden show back in 2018 and really enjoyed the quality of theatre and overall good vibes – I’m excited to come back!

Jon: It’s also special because fringe theatre is so hard to put on! Especially these days as more and more artists are being priced out of the scene, those that do get their shows to stage are there because they love what they do, so sharing that is pretty special.

Lily: I had a great experience taking another musical of mine, The Man Who Wouldn’t Be Murdered, to Camden last year. I found the people there were so welcoming to new work – it felt like a proper fringe!

Alien invaders, a despotic boss, an unhinged and corrupt Prime Minister all feature in your musical Invasion! Are you taking inspiration from current events at all?

Jon: The political landscape is so unbelievable at the moment that satire struggles to outpace reality. But the common consensus that we’re being ruled by monsters was a difficult hook for us to resist while writing the show.

Jasper: But we’re not just doing a bit that ‘it’s all an alien plot’ because I think that lets the real-life baddies off the hook.

Jon: INVASION! explores nostalgia, and how nostalgia has been used by corporations to keep people in a dull but economically beneficial status quo. Politically, there’s also a pervasive feeling that life in the UK is just more of the same, with everything gradually getting worse without anything new.

Jasper: The Prime Minister of INVASION!, along with Lotus Land itself, take inspiration from real life but are very much their own entities; more important to us than direct pastiche is telling a timely story, and we hope the show resonates with how people feel in 2023.

Lily: And of course, we took inspiration from real-life aliens. They are real… right?

I’ve seen some of the work put online by ADC Theatre, where your society often performs. Any plans to make digital work in the future?

Jon: Both Jasper and I made the leap online out of necessity during covid, but I still love all that – I work in radio drama so that sort of thing is the day job!

Jasper: The two audio dramas I made for ADC Online were superhero action adventures, and I had loads of fun telling large-scale stories that could never be pulled off in student theatre. No firm plans for any more yet, but never say never.

Production photo for INVASION

There are lots of new British musicals being created right now. Where does Invasion! fit in, and do you think the genre is healthy right now?

Jon: The West End is still mostly made up of juggernauts crutched by pre-recognition, but the runaway triumph of Operation Mincemeat shows the genre of homegrown shows is on the up. And who doesn’t love a musical? Especially one married to the trademark British humour.

Jasper: INVASION! is somewhat distinct in the musical marketplace – sci-fi, musicals, and original stories rarely mix. As Jon says, almost all big musicals are based on pre-existing intellectual property. It’s reflective of wider patterns in the entertainment industry, but it feels especially egregious in musical theatre.

However, it seems almost all of the exciting new musicals that have come over the last ten years, on both sides of the Atlantic, are historical – arguably adapting different kind of IP. Someone smarter could answer why this is – is the industry inherently conservative, or are audiences?

Lily: But we’re very excited and optimistic to see how people respond to INVASION! I hope the fact that we’re offering audiences a show that’s original and different will be an asset rather than a weakness!

What’s next for CUMTS and Invasion!?

Jasper: First – a rest! But then, who knows? We’ve all worked so hard on the show that, if audiences like it, we’d love to do it again.

Jon: We’ll see how the premiere goes first… We’d love to take it further, so watch this space!