Force of Trump

Sami Ibrahim
cough // drop Theatre
Jack Studio Theatre

Force of Trump
Chris Born Credit: Sami Ibrahim
Force of Trump Credit: Sami Ibrahim

Sami Ibrahim's play Force of Trump is set in a future beyond the November US Presidential elections when the newly elected President Trump arrives at Heathrow in Air Force One to find he is banned from entering the country. It seems he has texted permission for a general to use torture on three Muslim British soldiers.

Both the Trump war crime and the UK response would seem to follow from recent events. In January 2016, the UK Parliament debated a petition of over half a million signatures which demanded he be banned from the UK because of his ludicrous threat to ban Muslims from entering the US.

Chris Born plays Trump as a confused child who mostly sulks, occasionally blusters but generally has little idea what to do. Gone is the trademark aggressive bullying. Absent is the confident posturing that sometimes carries the charm of the bully telling us he is one of us really.

This Trump seems to have lost his way. He is stupid, shallow and lacking any sense of purpose. His attention span is slight and leads him to easy distraction. His advisor tries to motivate him with games of I Spy and Truth Dare. Even a homoerotic phone call from Putin telling him "we are big dicks" fails to shift his sulk.

It is not so much that Chris Born is a cardboard cut-out of Trump. He isn’t really Trump at all, and we can never for a moment believe it. Neither can we believe that the character he plays is the President of the most powerful military force on the planet. He is simply a couple of obvious insults wrapped up in a clumsily developed plot.

Granted a few people laughed a good deal during the performance and most smiled amiably, but that is hardly surprising. We all hate Trump. You could say almost anything against the man and get a cheer.

However this is really a one-dimensional, single-stranded joke that pokes fun without ever hitting its target or really addressing a social issue.

The show ends with the news that one of the tortured British soldiers confessed that he had been sending messages to the ISIS High Command, and even helping them bomb US military manoeuvres. It is enough to switch public opinion in Britain so that the media applaud Trump. As Muslims are being thrown out of public employment in the army, police and elsewhere, a police officer congratulates Trump telling him that now, "we’re going to cleanse this country." Outside, the crowds chant Trump’s name. The final words of the play are, "This is Trump's Time".

It could have been a powerful satiric ending that reminded us just how dangerous Trump and a lot of the current anti-Muslim rhetoric can be. It wasn’t, because it was poorly done and had nothing substantial to precede it.

There are at the moment some very good satires about this dangerous man. Recently, Simon Kay’s Trumpageddon really exposed his contradiction, made you laugh angrily and sent you away feeling better able to defeat him. Unfortunately, Force of Trump does nothing of the kind, and that is a shame.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna