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The 47th


Old Vic Theatre

The Cut, Lambeth, London SE1 8NB 0844 871 7628

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Ends 28th May 2022.
CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE. NOT SUITABLE FOR THOSE AGED UNDER 15 OR THE EASILY OFFENDED.
Audio described performance: 16th May 2022 at 7.30pm (touch tour 5.30pm)
Captioned performance: 10th May 2022 at 7.30pm

2024. The US Presidential Elections. Who will win, and what is the cost?

A new play from Mike Bartlett, featuring Bertie Carvel as Donald Trump. Rupert Goold directs.

 

 

(seen at the afternoon performance on 20th April 2022)

There will no doubt some day be several Pulitzer Prize winning plays about the Trump era. They will be written by Americans and lauded Off-Broadway, then on Broadway itself before arriving in the West End.

Given Mike Bartlett’s track record as a British political playwright, one can forgive partially the Old Vic for commissioning this fantasy take on the matter. Sadly, rather like the difference between Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, the lack of native insight and atmosphere leave off a vital layer of authenticity when asked to believe in the entire concept.

Considerably worse is Bartlett’s decision to analyse American affairs using British Shakespeare. Like adding hot water to ice cream, a little may shift a lump out of the carton, but it dissolves quickly and leaves an inedible mess. Oddly, a “King Lear” opening seemed mildly promising and inventive – the monkey steeled itself for an original and amusing satire with that as the play’s spine. Sadly, just as Bartlett mixes in other Bard works, the monkey is hugely disappointed to report that the rest is silence.

The first act has Trump (Bertie Carvel) sifting his off-spring’s loyalties and deciding to run again for President – against Kamala Harris (Tamara Tunie) - Biden (Simon Williams) having gone Scottish Thane tonto on us. Second act sees some sort of civil rioting before an ending which was probably written in angrily blunt red crayon about 10 minutes before the first preview began.

Bertie Carvel resembles Trump physically, but seems oddly restrained - the exuberance missing even when triumphant over the tiniest details like beating the law and walking free. Daughter Ivanka (Lydia Wilson) fares better against a horribly under-written role, and in fairness the pair create a credibly horrifying relationship by the end.

Tamara Tunie seemed to struggle with her lines several times, in a most un-presidential way. Excusable given the weakness of the writing in places, but still curious given that her President (Simon Williams) was rather appropriately decrepit yet delivered with less faltering than one might expect.

In smaller roles, James Garnon as thwarted Ted Cruz, Cherrelle Skeet as Nurse Vita and Ami Tredrea and James Cooney as Rosie and Charlie Takahashi were the most interesting characters and made the most of the sound linking storylines they were given – however preposterous.

That two Americans in the audience were reported asleep during act one by the lady behind them (with whom the monkey was chatting at the interval) rather summed up the lack of appeal of the piece.

With Miriam Buether’s M. C. Escher-inspired set and Rupert Goold’s direction using the entire auditorium, there is at least something visual to justify a single star, but quite how this play ended up in the form it has here is almost as big a mystery as the famous “hanging chad” - but rather less amusing as a reflection of US democracy.
 

The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Runs 2 hours 30 minutes approximately.

Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.

Old Vic Theatre full price seating plan

DAY SEATS: Located at box office discretion, price £5 each. Available from 24 hours before each performance either in person, online at www.oldvictheatre.com or by phone 0844 871 7628.

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