Trump'd!

Wed 2nd – Mon 28th August 2017

reviews

Kate Plummer

at 23:33 on 19th Aug 2017

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Set 14 years into President Trump's America, 'Trump'd!' presents a world in which left wing liberal values are truly dead. Abortion clinics are closed, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have been banished to a camp and gun sales are soaring. It is a ridiculous romp with one clear aim. To completely take the piss out of Trump and his supporters- something it does very well.

Loosely based on the Wizard of Oz, it tells the tale of three groups united in their quest to go to the White House to give Trump a piece of their mind. The first of these are ex supporters turned critics upset at Trump's plan to build a wall through their town and thus displacing them. The second is the Mexican Liberation Front angry, ironically, about not being deported due to their perceived whiteness. Finally, the two remaining members of ISIS make up the final group. With adaptations of songs such as 'One Day More', 'Let it Go', and 'You can't stop the beat', 'Trump'd!' rips into the Trump administration with biting wit and satire in a way that had the whole audience gripped in hysterics, not knowing what ridiculous plot twist or joke will come next.

What makes it distinctive, though, is its attitude. Something with messages peppered in like 'Trump only cares about profits not people' could fall into the trap of being sanctimonious. Thankfully, 'Trump'd!' does no such thing and does not take itself seriously at all, something that is necessary given how absurd it is- at one point a Mexican declares his love of his country and proceeds to smash a tub of guacamole over his face to hammer home the point. The musical is also very self-referential. The fact that what we are watching is a constructed play is flagged repeatedly, and actors draw attention to the inconsistencies in plot, such as the random disappearance of one cast member so that the actress could take on another role as Hilary Clinton.

It would not be complete, however, if it were not for Jack Bolton who plays Donald Trump. Never breaking character even for a split second, he has fine-tuned his impression to a tee from Trump's incessant pouting to ridiculous hand gestures. His stance and manner are so Trump-like it seems miraculous that they found such a suitable actor for the part and it begs the question- did the writers just base the play around one Trump lookalike they found in Cambridge?

Equally, his sidekick Arnold Schwarzenneger, played by Dan Allum- Gruselle is hilarious. Managing to sing in an Austrian accent is no mean feat, neither is maintaining a complete dead pan expression throughout all of his scenes.

The Cambridge Footlights have reached a level of satire in this 1 hour musical comedy that South Park has managed only in its 20 odd seasons. The writers and actors are definitely ones to watch.

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Tamsin Bracher

at 09:10 on 20th Aug 2017

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The latest show from the Cambridge Footlight’s, 'Trump’d!', bills itself as "an all-singing, all-dancing parody-musical journey through the desolate wasteland of future America". The comedic group, described by The Independent as ‘the most renowned sketch troupe of them all’, delivers on every single promise. One of many satirical pieces directed at America’s current president in Edinburgh this August (see also Simon Jay’s 'Trumpageddon' and 'Trumpus Interruptus'), the outlandish flair and impressive energy of the 'Trump’d!’ cast will surely stand out.

The show imagines the dystopic future of 2030 and a special mention should go to the dictator Donald Trump and his now vice-president, Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the show progresses, the homoerotic element between the pair was suggested with the perfect amount of hilarity. Both actors impeccably sustain their roles throughout and the Cambridge Footlights powerfully cash in on the recognisable Trump brand – platinum blonde wig, sickeningly tanned face and his rather disturbing (but oh ever-so-present) pout. Indeed, the man behind this flaunted image comes so close to being a real life cartoon character himself that I was slightly nervous 'Trump’d!' would simply regurgitate the mockery that proves the hallmark of his presidency thus far. I needn’t have worried: the packed theatre are kept in stitches. In an interview with 'The New Current', writer and co-director Adam Woolf describes how the troupe felt that ‘Trump was almost too insane to be satirised effectively in a conventional way, so [they] wanted to do something so ridiculous that he could never even come close to real life.’

This show achieved an unconventional level of ridiculousness particularly through its music. The witty lyrics, written to the familiar soundtracks of established musicals (Disney’s 'Frozen', 'High School Musical', 'Les Mis', 'Hairspray'), and the excellent choreography meant that the rather abrupt range in singing ability and the occasional slip-ups couldn’t matter less. 'Trump’d!' is a show that aims to capture a sense of the times - it is the overall impression, not the small detail, that is important. The snorts and gasps of those around me paid tribute to its piercingly contemporary feel.

Yet, behind all the slap-stick comedy, we are reminded at points that the performance was not 100% performance. Trump is preparing his masterpiece, The Great Wall, to divide America and Mexico, the entire Muslim population is bearing the brunt of ISIS’ campaign of terror (although, the play notes, ‘most folks are smart enough to know the difference’ between a Muslim and a Terrorist) and American slogans such as ‘Yes We Can’ and ‘the Land of the Brave’ and the values they represent are being brought into question. Indeed, the passing reference to Orwell’s dystopic novel, 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' – ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ – gives this political comedy a more sinister undertone. During Trump’s presidential election campaign, Matthew Norman wrote for 'The Independent' that ‘the truth has become so devalued that what was once the gold standard of political debate is a worthless currency’. In a world of post-truth, fake news and alternative facts, the metatheatrical element of 'Trump'd!' makes it a powerful, and yet tantalisingly frivolous, parody.

Completely over-the-top, totally and utterly ridiculous, silly beyond belief, 'Trump’d!' is comedy gold. I strongly recommend taking the time to go and see it.

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