Trump L’Oeil at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre

Trump L’Oeil is a dizzying show which focuses on non other than former President Trump and his time in office. The title itself is a play on words from trompe l’oeil which means to deceive the eye. The show promises a blend of cabaret, queer theatre and circus so I was intrigued to see how all of this would manifest in a show combined together.

The facts behind Trump’s time in office quickly become blurred and give way to details such as a meeting between Putin and Trump and a Faustian pact which sees Trumps genitals in clamps and tightened whenever Putin is unhappy with Trumps actions or a sub plot which sees a Democrat drag Queen and a Republican fall for each other but struggle to put their differences aside. On top of all of this is the underlying plot that if anyone mentions how surreal things are they appear to melt, like a Dali clock!

As you may be able to tell from the description there is a lot going on in this show, some pieces work, others leave me baffled. At times the production tries too hard to be clever and some numbers require an explanation in the programme and a projection at one end of the stage to help. It however has to be said that if a company has to work this hard to get an element of the show to be understood then maybe it is just too obscure. Sometimes the surreal element feels a little bit forced and the melting at the mention of the word comes out of nowhere.

One element that does work is the impressions that come from the cast. Vivek Sharma plays the man himself, complete with a bright blonde mop of a wig. Sharma has the pursed lips, pointing and cadences of Trump’s voice down to a T. Charlotte Barnes turns her hand to both Ivanka Trump and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sarah Louise Hughes play Putin as well as a whole host of other characters, whilst showing that she is the one in charge of proceedings, not Trump. Hughes can only be described as a ball of energy, her impressions are brilliant and at times she literally flips her way across the stage.

The plot between Republican, Rip and Democrat, Demi is a fun one and one that many of us can laugh at having had similar discussions with friends of opposite political persuasion. The queer element of the show comes from the fact that Demi is played by a drag Queen, something that Rip is oblivious to until Demi decides to tell him. Demi is played by Tish Weinman and Rip by Michael Mather who are wonderfully engaging with the audience and despite both of their flaws you find yourself rooting for them as a couple.

The music by Henry Parkman Biggs and Peston Jones is eclectic and fun and even after the show I am left singing the final number ‘Better Together.’ The numbers also give the cast n opportunity to really dance and the choreography by Blair Anderson has the cast leaping onto trampolines, appearing in a hoe down and much more.

Trump L’Oeil is a fun show but one which sometimes tries a little to hard to live up to its title in places, occasionally forcing some of the lyrics or ideas onto the audience. Put that to one side and its a show full of talented impressionists, catchy songs and entertaining concepts.

Trump L’Oeil is on at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 2nd October. You can find out more about the show on their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Help We Are Still Alive, Rehab The Musical and Six.

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