Review: Trump Lear by Project Y Theatre

A play within a play proposes how Trump would treat artists if he could

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 09 Aug 2018
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Imagine if Trump had the freedom to round up all of the artists and performers who criticised him. Terrifying, right?

Impressionist, actor and comedian David Carl's meta-theatrical piece presents a world where Trump has kidnapped Carl and is interrogating him about his show. Trump is a dictatorial voice scrutinising Carl's every move, like a critic but with a sniper at their beck and call. To save his own life, Carl must perform his well known, one-man adaptation of King Lear, in which Carl plays Lear as if played by Trump. This showcase of impressions is entertaining, though the connection between the character of King Lear and Trump is under-explored.

Carl uses a DIY design style for the puppets that play the other characters. Condiment bottles are bedecked with roughly cut out heads of politicians that parrot Shakespeare's lines in between the demands of the unseen 'real' Trump. The crudeness indicates that the play within the play isn't very good, though it's never quite clear why Trump would waste his time on something that looks so amateur. The dialogue and structure are fairly witty otherwise, with plenty of moments that generate humour.

The ending has some unexpected moments of profundity in the grotesque chaos that unfolds within the actual King Lear story and in Carl's unravelling, providing some good contrast to the rest of the show. Carl makes his opinions on Trump clear throughout, but he misses a trick and exploring the Trump/Lear relationship more deeply.