There are many reasons why you laugh at Lily Bevan’s Trump’s Women. First of all, you laugh because it’s truly funny. Written and directed by Bevan, the play takes a look at the different eras of Trump: the beauty pageant days, the Apprentice, his campaign and even the eerie future of the Donald. Framed by the women of Shakespeare (a theme that is a tad inconsistent as it gets neglected at some points), the play features the three witches from Macbeth who take the President on a journey of short, sketch-like scenes. It is witty and punchy, with some excellent writing that makes you cry with laughter. The cast has plenty of time to shine with great comic timing and physical comedy, especially in one scene where the three witches perform a ‘golf rap’ with pretty impressive skills and hilarious dance moves.
You also laugh because it’s familiar. The theatre is still dark at the very first moments when we hear that voice everyone knows. Luke Kempner delivers a great impression of Trump, so convincing you do not even need to see the man on stage, the iconic yellow wig dangling in thin air and moving with every word is enough. It’s a hilarious portrayal, but also recognisable. And indeed Bevan doesn’t have to go far to find material: the man was born for satire. Throughout the play you realise just how much of his lines are actual quotes from the President of the United States; you hear his voice talking about women, the way ‘blood [comes] out of [their]…wherever’, how he’d like to ‘grab [them] by the pussy’ and the fact that he finds his own daughter Ivanka so beautiful he’d ‘be dating her’ if they weren’t related. You laugh, but you also cringe, shift in your chair uncomfortably and occasionally boo. It is outstanding that despite the punchy lines of Bevan’s writing, the lines that hurt the most are actual quotes.
And finally, you laugh because it’s uncomfortable. The play ends with the witches showing Trump’s future: and it’s an eerie one. Rosie Sheehy gives an incredible and creepy performance as a sex robot, and Katie Buchholz portrays the futuristic, more advanced prototype, modeled on Ivanka. It is horribly disturbing, but you still laugh, as you’d rather not cry.
Given its title, it is no wonder that the cast’s strength lies in the female performers, with some stand-out performances from Bevan, Sheehy, Buchholz and Agatha Elwes. Some parts feel rushed and in need of some polish, especially the way the play addresses the Scottish Golf Course incident and a scene where a male drag performer gives reasons why he’s voting for Trump. The script often loses it’s sense of cohesion, and feels more like a collection of anecdotal scenes than a full play. The production also suffers a tad when props or lighting cues aren’t spot on, but these can be easily fixed with more practice and further runs. Ultimately, it is an evening of laughter, music, fun and unashamed satire about a man who is a goldmine of material.
Trump’s Women is playing at RADA’s GBS Theatre until 8 July 2017.
Photo: Helen Murray