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Making Musicals Great Again: Trump the Musical @ Alphabetti Theatre

Written by Arts, Theatre

Satire is clearly not dead. Trump the Musical takes all the political mayhem that’s been whipped up in recent years and distills it down into a manageable one hundred minute performance, mercilessly and eagerly mocking a myriad political figure of our time.

On entering Alphabetti Theater you are struck by its intimacy, seating around sixty people. With the stage surrounded by plastic chairs, basic lighting and sound production it was easy to have low expectations. Noticing the close proximity between audience and stage on entry to the theater, I opted for a seat further to the back correctly anticipating that participation would be required. Fortunately, I avoided the worst of it during the performance, with those on the front rows being picked upon, however even for someone averse to this kind of torment, it was conducted in a playful manner and didn’t feel forced.

Putin and Kim Jong-Un also make sporadic appearances throughout, often accompanied by some hard-hitting techno

Unexpectedly for a musical, the show had an improve/sketch comedy vibe, very loosely attached to a near non-existent narrative of a dystopian future, in which Nigel Farage has become King of the UK and Donald J. Trump is mad dictator of the US, with Putin and Kim Jong-Un also making sporadic appearances throughout, often accompanied by some hard-hitting techno, a refreshing innovation in the field of musical theatre. The cast of Trump the Musical managed to create a performance that was both entertaining and engaging, the amusingly charismatic characters bouncing off each other through lively and dynamic interplay in a varying array of absurd and bizarre circumstances.

As the show progressed it became clear that this was no ordinary musical, in fact it was surprisingly dark at times. The show was certainly better than I had anticipated given the reputation that low budget musical theatre has of being overtly ‘cheesy’. The sound production was particularly impressive and had me bopping my head, with many of the numbers being set to dark electronica, fitting with the dark dystopic future and disastrous circumstances being portrayed on stage. It’s unfortunate the performances didn’t make more of this innovation in musical theatre. In its attempt to combine electronic music with more stylistically typical numbers, the performance was somewhat undefinable, unsatisfyingly combining both new and old.

The particular strength of this experimental piece is in the character portrayals, reminding me of elements of favorite performances from the West-End; James Ringer-Beck’s interpretation of one of Trump’s sons as a feebly-voiced geek is particularly entertaining. For a fraction of the cost of a high-end production, it’s really worth the watch if you’re looking for some creative inspiration or something unique.

Trump the Musical runs until the 1st March.

Last modified: 21st March 2019

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