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
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; extension: Saturday matinees, September 2 – 30, 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