Dan Allum-Gruselle and Matt GurtlerJohannes Hjorth

The dystopia that awaits America after 14 years of Trump government is approached by writers Joshua Peters, Adam Woolf and Aron Carr with satire, music and political incorrectness. It is Trump we’re talking about, after all.

With little plot to work with other than citizens’ journey to meet with the President of the United States, the writers mostly play around with stereotypes to attain amusement. Americanisms (specifically, Southern and Republican) are mocked throughout the play. Stanley Thomas as Brett Texas masterfully embodied these caricatures, with his Southern accent, cowboy hat and firearm always conducive to outbursts of amusement amongst the audience.

The excellent delivery of a very entertaining script was crucial to the success of the performance. Having carefully studied characters’ mannerisms, the very convincing interpretations of Trump (Matt Gurtler), with his signature pout and intonation, Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dan Allum-Gruselle), with the near perfect monotonic accent, and Clinton (Amber Reeves Pigott), with her classic chipper, determined and over-enthusiastic demeanour, completely stole the show.

In preparing for this production, one of the biggest challenges faced by the cast and crew must have been ensuring that the musical aspects of the play were performed smoothly to live up to the scripted comedy. Although some of the musical renditions involving a large number of cast members occasionally appeared sloppy, with awkward choreography and uncoordinated movements (such as during the revamped quintessential musical number “One Day More”), this does not necessarily detract from the production. For Trump’d! is, after all, a parody, where any vaguely comedic event becomes an outlet for the audience’s laughter, be they motivated by the wittiness of the script or the shortcomings of the group performances. It is in fact this sporadic wobbly execution of such big numbers that often catalysed the echoes of laughter exuding from the audience.

Furthermore, the most enjoyable parts of Trump’d! were not necessarily the largest acts, although the protagonist’s first appearance along with the ‘Trumpified’ version of “Prince Ali” was certainly one of my favourites. Instead, it is the more nuanced numbers that gave the play some flashes of genius, as in “What I’ve Been Looking For”. The High School Musical song, performed by two members of ISIS merrily prancing and strolling down the stage, was my personal highlight. The song selection and adaptation, as well as the musical performances offered by some of the cast members, were very impressive and surpassed all expectations.

The production would, however, have benefited from a more creative deployment of technical features. The very basic lighting design, with little variation other than the occasional spotlight, made the flow of the play seem static. Nevertheless, after considering the constraints faced by late shows, combined with the fact that the acting and singing are often enough to bring tears of laughter to the audience’s eyes, these shortcomings do not appear to have a huge impact on the final reception of the piece.

Peters, Woolf and Carr have written a crowd pleaser. The expected inclusion of the topics of guns, religion, deportation and terrorism, where humour was truly brought to light, ensured that the jokes were widely understood and well received by the audience. The constraints of parody, having to allude to current events for humour’s sake, stifles creativity, but what is lost in comedic originality is regained by the genius reworking of Disney and musical theatre numbers. Having gifted us with the possibility of witnessing what a relationship between Trump and Schwarzenegger would look like, it is hard to ask for more. Trump'd! is a commendable and highly enjoyable production, where comedy and music, script and satire, and Trump and not Trump combine together to Make Parody Great Again.