‘He’s flavour of the month so it makes sense to imitate him’ – SWL reviews ‘Force of Trump’ at The Bedford

You know that well-known saying about satirical Donald Trump productions being like buses?

After spending election night being entertained by Simon Jay’s performance in Trumpageddon, I was hooked and began trawling through the internet for more, looking for my next fix.

While some people turn to vodka, others to cigarettes, I’d found my very own niche addiction in Donald Trump plays.

He’s flavour of the month so it makes sense to imitate him on stage, particularly when so many see him as some sort of parody character anyway.

So I scrambled up two flights of stairs to a small theatre above The Bedford in Balham to see Force of Trump – an intimate show comprising of just three cast members, with a minimalist set consisting of just an office chair and some scattered carpet tiles.

It’s 2017 and President Donald Trump is on his way for a state visit to the United Kingdom.

Only he’s found himself banned from the country for authorising the torture of two British Muslim soldiers.

Primarily set within the comforts of Air Force One parked on the runway at Heathrow, Force of Trump explores Trump’s inner turmoil as he, along with his advisor, struggles to deal with the pressures that being president entails.

Yet despite the play’s potential, it doesn’t seem to know if it is a serious political foreshadowing or a character-assassinating comedy, blurring the lines between both without ever really displaying conviction of either.

It featured glimpses of humour, such as when Trump struggles during a phone call to a very unhelpful call centre in an effort to seek asylum, but ultimately it was incredibly hit-and-miss with the fantastic acting often carrying an inconsistent script.

Despite being the most powerful man in the world, Trump is consistently portrayed as vulnerable and in need of babysitting.

He throws childish tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way, with his advisor having to initiate games of ‘I spy’ and ‘truth or dare’ in order to calm him down.

Yet contrary to the repetitive, tiresome misogynistic comments littered throughout, Trump seems to have no issues in being bossed around by a woman.

He is also shown as a terrible negotiator, struggling to make conversation (let alone strike deals) with various world leaders, even though Trump’s business acumen and negotiation skills are the few things people actually respect him for.

It’s essentially a show trying to making fun of Trump but in a reserved, stand-offish fashion, without any real attempt to push boundaries, culminating in a sudden twist ending that has powerful intentions yet lacks impact.

The finale sees Trump teaming up with a racist immigration officer to ‘cleanse the country’ like some kind of right-wing Kim and Aggie, before trying to suggest that everybody in the UK is a secret racist, making little sense and bearing no relevance to the entirety of the plot preceding it.

Playwright Sami Ibrahim could have saved the audience an hour of our lives by writing ‘I don’t really like Donald Trump’ in big letters on the wall and we would have all been in the pub a lot earlier.

Trumpageddon adopted a similar approach in making fun of Trump, but it was so exaggerated and ridiculous that it was entertaining – something Force of Trump very much fell short of.

It dipped its toe into comedy but was too afraid of drowning, while its political observations weren’t ever clever enough for it to be taken seriously.

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