REVIEW: Trump’d

This madcap satire is entertaining, but doesn’t entirely live up to its premise

ADC Cambridge Comedy Corpus Playroom Donald Trump Musical trump'd

This bash at lampooning Trump’s bellicose and controversial figure erred on the side of madcap absurdism rather than biting political satire – but was none the worse for it.

Opening in the the all-American ‘Pleasantville’, this farcical tale takes us on a Wizard-of-Oz-esque journey with the wide-eyed protagonist, ‘Donna’, collecting a plethora of weird and wonderful characters along the way. The choice of a straightforward storyline meant that the scenes felt like a series of sketches, many of which were genuinely funny. Especially noteworthy was the inspired choice of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Vice-President: the dynamic between ‘Arnie’ and Trump is best characterised in the re-enactment of the climactic scene of ‘Of Mice and Men’.

However, we felt the plot lacked direction at times: meta-theatrical asides regarding ‘character development’ and ‘the passage of time’ felt unnatural, and the ending left much to be desired. The massive potential in the premise is not entirely brought out by the writing.

Particular stand-out performances included the hilariously deadpan Dan Alum-Gruselle as Arnold Schwarzenegger and the simpering, synthetic figure of Hilary Clinton (Amber Reeves Pigott) – both hilariously adroit caricatures of their real-life counterparts. Matt Gurtler as the titular dictator cuts a haughty and comically menacing figure, though his humorous performance is a little hit-and-miss as an actual Trump impersonation.

Trump (Matt Gurtler) makes it rain

Trump (Matt Gurtler) makes it rain (Image Credit: Johannes Hjorth)

However, there seemed a particularly glaring missed opportunity in the promising idea of ‘the Mexican Resistance Army’. In an attempt to avoid playing too heavily on racial stereotypes, the MRA ended up lacking any discernible ‘Mexican’ features apart from their names, carelessly whispered at the start and then promptly forgotten. As a result, they ended up as a somewhat unnecessary appendage to the storyline.

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Esther Raffell, Joe Pieri and Jasmin Rees as members of the MRA (Image Credit: Johannes Hjorth)

Moreover, the attempt to satirise ISIS felt ill-advised, culminating in a bizarre musical number which almost portrayed the terrorists in a sympathetic light. The script seemed to imply that portraying ISIS was satirical in and of itself, and so the satire lingered on the side of overly subtle.

In the large part, the humour itself was well received, with the excellent use of one-liners and sharp cultural references appealing even to these two Philistinic mathematicians. One thing is for sure – Trump’d will definitely create quite the storm amongst students, particularly since Trump looks to be the presumptive Republican nominee (God help the future residents of Pleasantville).

Funny and adroit, Trump’d entertains more than it convinces. If Trump wins the election, expect a lawsuit.

3.5/5 stars