Writer: Laurence Peacock
Director: Kyle Williams
Musical Director/Composer: Dominic Lo
Reviewer: Ron Simpson
Blowfish Theatre is a youthful company based in Sheffield and Manchester, full of zest, imagination and subversive ideas, if rather over-dependent on a consistent supply of incredibly vain demagogues with bad hair. After the success of Boris – The Musical, what was more natural than to stage Trump – The Musical? They even bought another wig.
However, Trump is essentially different from Boris. The previous show was a zanily satirical presentation of the barely credible events by which Boris was mistaken for a serious politician. This one, doubtless working on the principle that it’s impossible to satirise Trump’s real-life actions, invents a story of 2020 populated by inspired caricatures of Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un and Nigel Farage. It’s a messy narrative, full of inconsequential twists, sometimes more like a series of turns, but it worked for the first-night audience, often helpless with laughter, always ready to join in.
Explanation of the “plot” is not a good idea, but it has something to do with Donald Trump seeking re-election in 2020, and him and Putin competing to be the first to nuke North Korea. Nigel Farage is now King Nigel of the Disunited Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland. The invented characters are less successful than the absurd “real” characters. Oddly Laurence Peacock writes a somewhat unappealing part for himself: Roger Lavery, King Nigel’s Chief Minister, but also secretly a senior member of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite, plotting his overthrow. Conscience gets an uneasy run-out in Rod, Trump’s Press Secretary, played by Polly Bycroft-Brown. Peacock and Bycroft-Brown do great work in the ensembles, along with the other cast members, but their characters add little interest.
Kyle Williams is a foul-mouthed opportunist of a Nigel Farage, full of saloon bar aggression, but the play immediately lifts at the appearance of David Burchhardt or Natasha Lanceley. Peacock and Williams’ great inspiration is to cast a woman as the macho posturing dictators in both Russia and North Korea, so Lanceley’s Putin is simultaneously love-struck for Donald who has deserted her and single-mindedly stomping her way to world dominance. Her stunning turn as the capricious Kim Jong-Un is a bonus. As for Burchhardt, his mindlessly narcissistic Trump is all too convincing, though the real Donald would not be able to cavort around the stage with such abandon – Peacock’s script is particularly strong on his credulity and his denial of reality. We could do with more time of Trump being Trump rather than plot complications – or would it be unwise to appeal so much to his vanity?
Dominic Lo crops up now and again as a Russian yes-man (occasionally a Niet-man) and skilfully accompanies a series of clever songs: who knows whether Make America Great Again (Again!) will surface as a campaign song? Physically uninhibited and unencumbered by issues of good taste, Trump – The Musical seeks to be both hilarious and terrifying – and succeeds in the former much more often.
Touring nationwide | Image: Contributed