So, I’m sitting writing this review as Donald Trump is declared the winner in the US Presidential Election. If you are on Twitter then just take five minutes to search for #Trumpageddon and you will see a huge reaction to the victory. You will also see comments about Simon Jay’s one-man show Trumpageddon which I saw at the King’s Head Theatre on election night.
Once in the the theatre, we get to meet the shambolic figure of Donald J Trump (Simon Jay) who has ‘flown in’ after voting to be with us this evening. Donald is an orange faced affable(ish) character who, very bravely, not just talks to the audience about how great he is but allows them to question him on his campaign, thoughts and potential actions as President of the United States.
I am going to be really honest and say my feelings about Trumpageddon are really conflicted. Simon Jay has really captured the person of Donald Trump and all the familiar parts of the man are there to see. The little looks, disheveled appearance, repetition, and gestures are all captured very well, as are some of Trump’s favourite phrases and comments, along with the ickiness that comes to mind whenever he makes eye contact with a female audience member. Simon really does well with the questions from the audience – which contained a surprising number of Americans on the night I went. I also loved the very simple decision-making method that was introduced.
The real problem is that, from a performance point of view, Donald Trump is very difficult to parody as he often seems to be pretty much a parody in his own right. Simon has definitely captured the essence of the man but, in the case of a normal politician, the sort of answers Simon came up with to the audience questions would normally be considered satire. Unfortunately, having watched a couple of the presidential debates, Simon’s answers are often quite sensible compared to the view of the real person. Rather like the puppets in ‘Avenue Q’, Simon’s portrayal of Trump can get away with throwing the PC rule book out of the window, and occasionally, I felt a twinge of guilt laughing at some of the comments or put downs he used on the audience.
Overall, I sort of enjoyed Trumpageddon. I think I would have enjoyed it more a while ago when it didn’t look like Donald was going to be getting his hands anywhere near the White House keys. However, looking at it as a piece of theatre. The show was well put together and executed overall, though I would question the use of the ‘protect and survive’ soundtrack without giving some form of introduction. Being a bit of an old codger I recognized it immediately – as did my companion (though only because some of the videos were used by Frankie Goes to Hollywood on ‘Relax’) – but some of the younger audience members did look a little puzzled at first. I thought the ending was exceptionally good – and possibly very close to the reality that Mr Trump finds himself in today.
So, to sum up. Trumpageddon is a funny show that delivers a nice satirical view of the next President of the United States. Whilst it cannot out-parody the man himself, it makes a brave stab at it and, considering the events of last night/this morning, I think Simon Jay has a great career ahead of him over the next four years.
Review by Terry Eastham
580,963 people signed a petition to ban Donald J. Trump from entering the UK. Yet he’s here in London in all his horrifying glory. Immerse yourself in Trump’s vision of the world before he blows it to kingdom come. Witness the way he works an audience up into a fervour, ask him all the burning questions and see what a world would be like if The Donald was president. From five-star writer and performer Simon Jay, this absurdist satire of the next US President is as demented, hysterical and disturbed as the man himself.
Extra date added 14th November 2016