REVIEW: Double Bill show provides outstanding Trump and Shakespeare

The 45th President of the United States is easy to poke fun at; he is an endless cacophony of soundbites and late night tweets that leave most sane human beings scratching their heads. So, naturally he is the target of numerous comedians and actors all trying to clamber aboard the crazy train before it well and truly derails in spectacular fashion. Some pull of it off, others crash and burn.

DJ Trump
4th Wall Theatre

Alexander Sparrow inhabits Trump, or rather Trump inhabits Sparrow. The mannerisms are spot on, the insults flying at will, the pumpkin spice make-up job is just as terrifying in the flesh as it is on our TV screens. It is no wonder Sparrow is the Southern hemisphere’s number one Trump impersonator, so convincing is his performance.

There are no holds barred in his hour long tirade, filled with exactly what one would expect from a typical Trump press conference. Ego stroking aplenty as he launches into his top tips for getting ahead in the business world.

The 30 (Although this review IS part of the “Fake news” so the real number was much closer to 30,000 according to DJ Trump) audience members were a mixture of ages and genders and not all of Sparrows off-the-cuff repartee was well received, which is no reflection on his ability as an actor, comedian or impersonator.

Trump is such an easily hateable character that it takes a truly brave soul to tackle him, and an even braver one to stick to exactly what he is known for; boorish, rude, sexist, racist and downright disgusting behaviour no matter whom he is speaking to. It is a credit to the bravery and ability of Sparrow to have created this show and to have enjoyed such long running success.

In between the business tips at the rally we have been privy to, we see Trump in a more vulnerable setting, his counselling sessions. Here, he reveals the torment he suffered as a child, with his racist Klan member Father whose middle name was Christ (It’s true, look it up) abusing him and his Mother (With whom he shared an “intimate” relationship… maybe not true, but I wouldn’t put it past him, after all he HAS publicly stated that he would enter in to a relationship with his daughter).

He sheds a tear, reminisces about the only Mexican friend he ever made being taken away from him when his Father made him build a wall to keep them apart at the beach. It is an interesting juxtaposition having Trump’s insane rally being pitted against a more human side to the ego. In any other setting it would be easy to suggest that this is an attempt to get the audience on board with a thoroughly hateable character, but here it only serves to create an even more comedic character. His sadness and childhood trauma elicit schadenfreude more than empathy.

And yet, somehow at the end of the abuse, racist, sexist taunts and clear disdain for anyone who isn’t himself, Trump still manages to get every audience member on their feet and chanting “All hail DJ Trump” as he raps his way to the end of a skilful, perfectly executed rollercoaster of insanity.

Thoroughly entertaining, brilliantly performed and one of the bravest comedy show you’ll ever see.

The Merry Wives of Windsor
4th Wall Theatre

Knowing that Katie Boyle was at the helm of this one-woman Shakespeare extravaganza I was expecting something special, but I was not prepared for how utterly brilliant the next hour and a half was going to be.

It is hard enough for any actor to portray ONE Shakespearean character, but for 90 minutes Boyle conjures up an acting masterpiece and performs 13. THIRTEEN characters, ONE woman and the freshest, most entertaining version of a classic Shakespeare play New Plymouth has ever seen.

Thankfully, the version Boyle chooses to perform does away with the sub-plot of who shall be betrothed to Miss Anne Page, which serves the double purpose of not only eliminating a confusing and arguably boring side story, but also cuts out 12 characters meaning Boyle can focus on perfecting the 13 she is already tackling, and we the audience don’t become hopelessly lost.

Knowing that Boyle is a Shakespeare fanatic, it is no surprise that she so perfectly captures so many characters and remembers so many lines, what is truly stunning is how easily each character is defined by a mannerism, vocal tic or facial expression. Nothing was lost, each character brilliantly captured and performed. Looking around the audience, not a single person seemed lost or confused as to who was who, truly a testament to the ability of the actor.

The speed at which Boyle flicks from character to character is perhaps the most impressive and amusing aspect of the performance. Fat Knight Fallstaff morphing into demure maidens before instantly transforming in to bumbling house staff all within seconds, and without missing a beat. Boyle never slipped up on mannerisms or accents, each character was pinpoint perfect from start to finish, a genuinely awe-inspiring feat. The delivery of the lines was equally as impressive, Boyle captures the essence of Shakespeare’s words with such aplomb, emphasis on the innuendo, subtle looks and fourth wall breaks in the finest of traditions.

Boyle relied purely on her ability to tell the story, needing nothing more than a few pieces of clothing, a basket and some beautifully subtle lighting to create the world. She invites the audience to participate, often venturing into the auditorium and engaging with a delighted audience. (New Plymouth now holds the dubious honour of being the only city of over 40 performances to have an audience member willingly kiss her armpit after 90 minutes of strenuous theatrical exercise.)

Under the careful and considered direction of touring partner, Alexander Sparrow, Merry Wives Of Windsor is hugely entertaining, vivacious and energetic. Boyle is a master of characterisation and a performer second to none. Keep an eye out for her performances in the future, you will not find a more entertaining and skillful portrayal of Shakespeare’s characters (Thirteen of them!)