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Trump Lear

A dark, witty version of Donald Trump from the perspective of besieged, but talented, actor David Carl.

David Carl in a scene from “Trump Lear” (Photo credit: Anton Velez)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

David Carl’s Trump Lear (co-created with its director, Michole Biancosino) joins the parade of satirical representations of President Trump, the most recent being the Trump/Julius Caesar in the Public Theater Julius Caesar at the Delacorte Theater.

Trump Lear turns out to be a gem, a brilliant gem with many facets that shine an intensely comic light on Trump. It’s a brutally honest x-ray as only a comedy can be, a sardonic, scary, funny take on Donald Trump as seen through the eyes of a victimized playwright/performer who is—shades of 1984!—kidnapped and imprisoned for making fun of the President!

On a purposely shabby set—fold-out table, chair, several packages wrapped in grungy, torn paper, cluttered floor—an obviously beleaguered Carl sits wearing an equally shabby purple and gold “Shakespearean” cape and a huge Donald Trump orange bouffant topped by a miserable, crooked crown.

He’s been kidnapped by Trump who has been president for twenty years (!!) and believes that Carl’s version of King Lear is treasonous. He—actually Carl in a brilliantly timed, incisively spoken prerecording—constantly mocks, insults and verbally jousts with Carl who is forced to do his one-man

Lear—what Trump calls “his little skit”—for the disembodied president.
David Carl in a scene from “Trump Lear” (Photo credit: Anton Velez)

Carl, with the aid of delightful jerry-built puppets of three Bushes (two presidents and a governor), Ivanka Trump, Paul Ryan, Ronald Reagan and many others who take on the various roles in Lear (for which Carl deftly provided different voices in a vocal tour de force) manages a multi-level performance that works as a theater piece and a political statement, all the more powerful because we see this poor actor sweating to save his life. (The best puppet is Putin, represented by a vodka bottle!)

Trump makes him open the above-mentioned boxes. Each contains a surprise and a challenge with which the sadistic Trump eggs on Carl until he is ready to collapse physically and emotionally. Trump also interrupts Carl’s very funny Lear with “commercials” designed to advance his agenda. (The videos are by Mark Stetson and Carl; the sound design and voiceover by Carl; and the still projections by Ms. Biancosino whose direction astutely kept the dark humor flowing.)

Carl, who is, shall we say, a tad overweight, somehow grows handsomer as he battles the unreasonable, unjust and illiterate POTUS.

Trump Lear should be seen by as many people as can fit into UNDER St. Marks. It encapsulates everything we need to know about our 45th President.

Trump Lear (Saturday nights through August 12, 2017)
Frigid New York @ Horse Trade, in association with Project Y Theatre Company
UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.horseTRADE.info
For information, visit http://www.trumplear.com
Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (203 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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