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Posts Tagged ‘Kamala Harris’

This is my 18th Mike Bartlett play (inc. 3 adaptations) in just fourteen years of his twenty as a playwright, and the second new play by him in eight days. That’s what I call prolific. The diversity of his subjects and forms has always been one of his trademarks. Given the subject matter of this one, well the subject really, I was expecting something wildly satirical and hysterical. To some extent it is, but its also serious, sometimes chilling.

It starts brilliantly, with a spin on one of Shakespeare’s most famous opening scenes. We’re in the middle of Biden’s term as President, with Trump and his three eldest children – Donald Jnr, Ivanka & Eric – and he’s about to kick start his comeback plan. What evolves eventually becomes a continuation of the Capitol Hill insurrection, but his attempt at re-election takes some surprising though not implausible turns. In between, we attend campaign rallies and TV debates, plus behind-the-scenes meetings within the Trump family, political parties and the US Administration.

Bertie Carvel’s characterisation of Trump is extraordinary. He captures every stance, expression and vocal inflection so perfectly it’s uncanny. The trouble is, when he’s offstage you find yourself waiting for his return, Trump is such an overpowering character and Carvel’s is such a towering performance that it imbalances the play. Our cast of other real life characters includes President Joe Biden & his VP Kamala Harris and Republican Senator Ted Cruz, all played by an excellent supporting cast of nineteen actors (though the actors playing the Trump siblings seem to be playing well above their years). Miriam Buether’s design takes us from golf course to the Oval Office via many other locations with a judicious use of projections. Her revolve is thrust out into the stalls making the Old Vic seem more intimate.

Rupert Goold’s production has a lot of high spots, but it suffers from uneven pacing, perhaps because of the Trump dominance (though that’s a bit like reality too!), meaning it did lag at times. Overall, though, I thought it was a fascinating speculation that did illuminate the power of this man to appeal to seemingly unlikely constituencies like blue collar workers. Lets hope its prophesies don’t come true.

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