Getting inside the head of UKIP

Priyanga Burford (Dr Lorna James) in The Effect.  Cred Johan Persson
Priyanga Burford (Dr Lorna James) in The Effect. Cred Johan Persson

Currently playing a psychiatrist in The Effect at the Crucible Studio, Priyanga Burford was seen earlier this year on TV as UKIP’s (fictional) first Asian MP.

It was in the Channel 4 drama-documentary, UKIP: The First 100 Days, which was shown before the General Election and speculated on what a government led by Nigel Farage might be like.

“I’m not a UKIP supporter but that process of having to do the amount of research we did, not just about UKIP itself but also about the life of an MP, was incredibly interesting and informative,” she says.

“You have to see the world through their eyes like any other character you might play. There’s no one who is one thing all the time and you cannot judge the character you play.

“It was a collaborative process with a lot of improvisation as well as the script. It was a creative and exciting experience.”

The show mixed drama with real-life footage, including of a demonstration held in Doncaster outside UKIP’s annual conference last year. Real-life protesters, some from Sheffield, were interviewed.

In The Effect she plays Dr Lorna James, a psychiatrist conducting a drugs trial into a new anti-depressant and as she monitors the effects on two young volunteers reveals she has problems of her own.

Lucy Prebble’s play is brilliantly written, she says. “It gives you these massive questions in the palatable form of a love story. It’s gentle and touching, warm and funny, but also dark and human.”

It explores the ethics of drugs companies as well as the nature of love. “It’s not biased and leaves people with something fantastic to chew on and talk about afterwards.”

After experience of the RSC and the Royal Court she took a break from theatre while her children, now 12 and seven, were young.

The Effect ends on Saturday.