Wed 4th – Sat 7th May 2016


Clare Cavenagh

at 08:33 on 5th May 2016



Set in a dystopian future where Donald Trump, after winning this election, this one just coming up, has then sort of not left but instead formed a kind of terrifying dictatorship with Arnold Schwarzenegger (the GOVERNATOR) as his right-hand-man, Trump'd! produced a lot of laughs in the audience, and was pretty fun to watch, but seemed a little thin and shambolic

This musical opens, of course, with a song. Like all the songs in the show, the tune was brazenly stolen (or masterfully appropriated) from a highly recognisable musical. The opening number introduces one of the interweaving plots of the story: the simple, gun-toting people of Pleasantville are dismayed at President Trump's decision to build his Wall of Mexico through the centre of the town, destroying it, and rendering them homeless. Donna de la Tromp (Olivia Gillman in red shoes and a gingham dress) and Brett Texas, the best escort in town (Stanley Thomas), head off to Washington to see if they can't smooth things over with the president.

Along the way, they meet plots number two, three and four, namely a group of Mexican resistance fighters trying desperately to be deported back to their homeland, Hilary Clinton, and the two remaining members of ISIS who together form ISIS 2.0, or TwISIS. Together, the unlikely gang of comrades plough metatheatrically towards the capital, readying themselves as they go for a confrontation with the T-Man himself.

There were plenty of flashes of brilliance in this show. The Mexicans, fighting to be deported out of America along with the Muslim population, found they were barred from doing so - too many Americans had been lying about their heritage, and this particular group were 'too white' to be deported. Dan Allum-Gruselle was the undeniable show-stealer as Schwarzenegger, sporting an unmoving expression, a pair of aviators, and a cushion shoved under his dress shirt. Politically savvy enough to capitalise on his acting talents, he was nevertheless also the (oddly placed, admittedly) emotional heart of the show. A kind of send up of Lennie's death scene in Of Mice and Men elicited at least as many sad little sighs and moans as it did laughs.

Ultimately though, Trump'd! seemed to fall a little short of achieving all the things it could have. The TwISIS pair (Ruari Bride and Esther Raffell) were kind of only given one joke, and it often felt like there was only one idea contained in each song, too, hammered home for four-and-a-half minutes. The fouth-wall breaking humour was very funny the first time it cropped up, and pretty funny the second, but seemed tired and overused by the end of the show (although I suppose you could argue that this is a kind of joke in itself).

Overall, the audience present at the opening night of Trump'd! laughed frequently and loudly, and the show itself was enjoyable enough. It didn't seem to manage to do all that it could have however, and at times felt a little thin.


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