Given the election’s outcome, this is perhaps the most difficult review I’ve ever had to write. Trumpageddon, written and performed by Simon Jay, is intended as political satire. Little did we know, the joke would be on us.
Jay performs as Trump, his face the famously ominous shade of orange, wearing a suit with suspicious white powder stains on the lapel. His impersonation is down to a T, with his mannerisms mirroring our new President-elect with alarming precision.
The stage is set out like a party, a setting which now makes me sick to my stomach. Kitted out with a miniature stage, balloons, an American flag and bunting, Trump hands out mini donuts to audience members in a cheap bid to gain votes – not dissimilar to some of his real life methods. The performance is interactive, the piece acting as a platform for audience members to ask Jay’s incarnation of Trump questions they cannot otherwise ask in real life. Jay’s improvised answers were highly entertaining but their parallels with reality now give the piece a chilling edge.
To watch the performance on election night filled the room with a palpable tension given what turned out to be our legitimate fears – a Trump victory. This tension, however, only fuelled Jay’s improvisations, capitalizing on our anxieties with perfect comic timing. In between these audience interactions, Trump looks ahead to a post-apocalyptic future with him as President, using old Second World War air raid sirens and instructions to demonstrate the carnage Trump is capable of. As with the rest of the piece, what was once entertaining, now has the potential to be a terrifying reality. Obama phrased it well: “If your own campaign can’t trust you to tweet, how can we trust with the nuclear codes”. This man is now our President, and this could now be our future. An incredibly distressing possibility.
Notably, the play lacks any real plot, appears muddled, with no real aim, other than a Q & A in which Trump spouts his usual exaggerations and downright lies, projecting views and ideas that could only ever benefit wealthy white men. Jay’s structure is clever in that it reflects the utter stupidity of Trump’s campaign – chaotic, with no real plans in place for the future of the United States.
Jay will be giving another performance on 14 November – now the election is over it will be interesting to see the way in which it impacts Jay’s performance. Despite the power of hindsight adding a layer of horrific irony and fear, overall an intelligent and witty piece.
Trumpageddon is playing Kings Head Theatre on the 14 November. For more information and tickets, see Kings Head Theatre website.