Written and directed by Joshua Peters, Adam Woolf and Aron Carr
At C Venues, Edinburgh Fringe, Aug 23-27
This pastiche parody is one of three musicals about Trump playing at the Edinburgh Fringe – perhaps because the absurd American political reality demands the outrageous silliness of an over-the-top panto.
This Cambridge Footlights production, with a Wizard of Oz framing device, dueting Isis members, and fourth wall breaking Mexicans, really leans into this. There’s no detailed political analysis to be found – but plenty of the broad jokes are going to land with an audience who love to hate America. The writers have slipped a few pertinent points into the script: that’s it’s not too late to dump Trump, and there’s always hope.
The backing music for the songs has been borrowed from all your favourite musicals, provided on stage by Ted Mackey and Anthony Gray on keyboards. They’re well chosen – catchy and familiar, they bring a lot of energy to the small cast, making it seem like a bigger budget show.
All the performers are having a great deal of fun – though some are stronger singers than others, all put a lot of heart and personality into their roles and were hilariously engaging. Annabel Bolton’s rapping Hilary is delightful, as was Amaya Holman’s ingenue and Stanley Thomas’ grizzled ‘escort’. The members of the Mexican Resistance, played by Carine Valarche, Capucine May and Henry Eaton-Mercer, got to show off good comedic chops and great dance moves. Dan Allum-Gruselle did a lot with a stiff Austrian accent and several pairs of sunglasses. Jack Bolton, who plays Trump, brings to the obvious long tie, orange face and blond wig a disconcertingly perfect impersonation of the shitty President’s shitty voice.
There’s a lot of laugh out loud moments. There’s also a few disconcertingly dark spots in the play – a reminder that the writers and cast know that the reality is much more serious than they’re presenting to you now, which they’ve decided not to address – which is reasonable. A musical isn’t the place to sensitively portray internment camps or rampant xenophobia.
If you’re looking for an hour where you get to laugh at the most laughable parts of America, this is the show for you.