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Trumpageddon (Edinburgh Fringe Festival): Review

trumpageddon You know when you've been Tango-ed. Simon Jay as Donald Trump in 'Trumpageddon'. Photograph: Courtesy of Seabright Productions.

Trumpageddon is a great piece of satire. It’s the best piece of satire. So good and so deftly executed, it’s almost not funny. Sad.

After over 1,000,000 people signed a petition to stop a state visit of Donald Trump to the UK, he’s decided to come to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival instead. All rise for the president of the USA in Trumpageddon.

Concept

We live in turbulent times, there’s no doubt about it. The thought of Donald Trump becoming president of the USA was something widely derided as a joke and an impossibility, but it still managed to happen. Now we’re seeing stripping of civil liberty after civil liberty, especially for minority groups, and the rapid erosion American of democracy. Oh, and a possible nuclear war with North Korea. However, Trump is a gift to satirists as he is such a ridiculous a character making him immensely easy to mock. With the world still reeling in horror at Trump’s presidency, there is, of course, an abundance of satire about him, and Trumpageddon is part of that trend. But having generated a big buzz at last year’s festival, what is it that marks Trumpageddon out from similar satirical fair? The answer is that it’s unbelievably believable!

Oddly, the praise and the problem with Trumpageddon is that the satire is exquisitely too good. Despite Simon Jay’s Trump exaggerated drag persona, with Tango-face, dusty bluebell lips, and constantly closed eyes, Jay’s portrayal of Trump is very close to the real thing that it goes beyond funny at times. Everything about Jay’s mannerisms, the accuracy of his character’s responses, and his locker-room rapport with the audience, is too damn close to the genuine article. Trumpageddon should be something so fucking loony that it’s impossible to be plausible, but it cuts so close to the bone meaning that at points you know you should be laughing, but can’t quite muster it because its so cringe-inducingly real. Thankfully, there are some out rightly comic moments that break the awkwardness and are unequivocally played for laughs: an appearance/escape of Trump’s wife, Melania is brilliantly oddball and is a welcome giggle. There are also other little skits that break up the pace and unconformable atmosphere at times, that help move the show along and remind you that this is satire after all. But when you think about it, it’s madness that there needs to be comic relief moments…in a comedy show!

The result is that Trumpageddon is a fantastic watch, although awkward at times. The problem with such astute satire as this is that it’s so good that Trumpageddon feels a little “too soon”. The cornucopia of incredibly sharp and vicious take-downs would be hilarious if they’re weren’t so realistic. It seems like madness to use this as a criticism, but at the end of the day but if the audience are just that little bit too raw, the response to Trumpageddon is somewhat muted than the laugh-a-minute carnival that it could be. Regardless, even though it might not be fully possible to ever completely enjoy Trumpageddon, you really can’t deny that Jay has created a piece of satire so undeniably good, it’s scary.

Verdict

Trumpageddon is so on point, it’s pretty much alt-reality! No negative press covfefe here.

Trumpageddon plays at the Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), until 28 August 2017. For tickets, times, and price, visit tickets.edfringe.com