As you enter the Jack Studio Theatre, he’s there. Bleach blonde wig in place, he dances around on an office chair accompanied by the Flying Lizards’ ‘Money’. Already inciting an atmosphere of antagonistic arrogance, the opening of Force of Trump perfectly sets the scene for a night of political satire that is comical, relevant, and at times, a bit frightening.
The year is 2017. Donald Trump has won the US Presidential elections, and within the space of a few months has already declared war on Syria, taking the UK in along with him, and is flying into London for an intense press conference concerning the current conflict. The opening scenes humorously introduce the audience to Trump and his intellectually superior female advisor. Their relationship is reminiscent of parent and child; he seeks her praise and reassurance, throws tantrums when she doesn’t advise as he wishes, and she scolds him – yet not for some childlike misdemeanour, but for ordering the torture of three British Muslim soldiers. This triggers a series of events in which Theresa May bans Trump from the UK, Vladimir Putin advises Donald to confront the armed guards outside his private jet (an immigration officer later comically states “I think we’ve learned never to trust Vladimir Putin) and Trump ends up detained by immigration and seeking legal aid to apply to be allowed into the country.
The story line is very humorous, yet it is odd to put ones finger on how such a relevant and intimidating subject matter can be comical. It is likely due to the performances of the versatile actors, who manage to imitate the political figures (Trump, Putin, Theresa May) with accuracy and an ironic, satirical approach. The interpretation of Trump is hilarious – the accent is spot on, and the lines are delivered with a childish, immature tone that appeals to many British citizens’ perceptions of the unlikely US Presidential candidate.
The details of Sami Ibrahim’s script are also to be commended. He manages to capture the idiosyncrasies of the sarcastic British demeanour embodied in the character of the immigration officer, which enables the audience to contrast their fellow native with the brash confidence of the American characters that are stereotypically overconfident and brash. It becomes disturbing, however, that the British public are won over by Trump’s “straight talking” and “Twitter antics”, and we are left with the sound of chanting and applauding for this ridiculous character.
“THIS IS TRUMP’S TIME” the protagonist shouts into the audience as the play comes to a close. The phrase has been used previously during the play, but this time it feels darker, and more of a terrifying foreshadowing of what the political future may hold. All traces of comedy are wiped away, as the liberal minded amongst the audience hope that this play can remain for them an intriguing political satire, and that it will not become a prescient view of a frightening future.
Force of Trump played the Jack Studio Theatre, Brockley until October 15.