Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton
26/10/2016 - 26/10/2016
The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North
28/10/2016 - 29/10/2016
BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
01/11/2016 - 05/11/2016
09/11/2016 - 12/11/2016
We have a winner – which makes you the losers.
“I love the poorly educated … believe me.” Donald Trump
Votes are in, and the unthinkable has happened: Donald Trump has won the election. The left are up in arms, the right are nonplussed, and in the middle stands a man with tiny hands and a ‘beautiful, beautiful wall’.
The Don’s decided to bring out a new book – and you are his ghost writer. From the comfort of his bedroom, he reveals piece by piece the way he came into power . . . and how he’ll make sure he never gets pushed out of office.
A one-man comedy that could one day be based on a true story: brought to you by the Orange God, and the guy behind ENIGMA and de Sade.
Dates & Venues:
15 October The BoileRoom, Upper Hutt
26 October The Meteor, Hamilton, 7.30pm
28 – 29 October The Dark Room, Palmerston North, 7pm
1 – 5 November BATS Theatre, Wellington, 8.30pm
9 – 12 November The Classic Studio, Auckland, 8.30pm
19 November Little Theatre, Picton
20 November Hanmer Springs War Memorial Hall
26 November The Globe, Dunedin
Theatre , Solo ,
The Future is Now
Review by Tim George 10th Nov 2016
With hideously perfect timing Alexander Sparrow’s new show The President Tour arrives at the Classic to offer a terrifying view into the mind of US president-elect Donald Trump.
The lead-up to this show was a series of ironies. Most of the audience did not turn up because they were following the results. As Trump (the real one) was heading for the finish line we were sitting down to watch the show. And as someone called out the final result, the lights went down and the show started to extremely nervous giggles.
Sparrow’s impression is great. Not because he gets the man’s ticks (excellent) and voice (okay) down, but because he nails the core of Trump’s personality — the careening train of thought, the completely superficial understanding of the world, and overriding focus on putting himself at the centre of attention. [More]
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Funny, clever, depressing
Review by Nik Smythe 10th Nov 2016
Before seeing the show and hearing the result, I’m surmising that writer/ performer Alexander Sparrow must be hanging on the edge of his seat more keenly than most New Zealanders, as it’s bound to have an impact on his cheeky little play. Reflecting on the last sixteen odd months of rampant political and media insanity, I think a lot of people feel as I do – utterly sick and tired of this literally Trumped-up (from his original family name Drumpf) black hole of bigotry smearing his extremist vitriol relentlessly across the media he so righteously condemns.
Frankly the last thing any of us needs is another comic impersonation of the prick – and how does one add emphasis to a subtlety-free personality anyway?! We’re long past even attempting to communicate the abject dismay that it has managed to come this close, that somehow there’s a slim but real possibility that smarmy jerk boss from that egregious reality show could be elected by the nation’s people to the highest office in the land. The man has already had about ten billion times more attention than he ever deserved, so what can you – Alexander Sparrow – offer that hasn’t been screamed in ad nausea desperation already?!
Clearly I’m not a fan of the man (Trump), and I presumptuously assume the majority of the readership of our esteemed online publication feels the same.
Literally a minute before Sparrow’s entrance one of the eight opening night patrons confirms that Trump has secured the presidency, and thus with a collectively heavy heart we begin the evening’s entertainment. What we hoped would be a refreshingly ironic laugh at a deluded egotist’s refusal to accept reality is instead a dark, potential portent of what we may be about to face, albeit satirical, the diminutive ‘crowd’ only adding to the bleakness on the scenario.
Sparrow enters as the Donald in his fluffy robe and slippers adorned with silver baubles, essentially congratulating us for being in his presence. In this reality it was a closer win than the actual drubbing he dispatched the campaign Clinton has worked her whole life towards, and the aftermath executed by constituents who took his suggestion to second-amendment supporters to heart has left him with a free run to do what he wants as mandated by his evident popularity.
The premise is that we are each here to write down what he says, so that he can read each version, pick the one he thinks makes him look the best, and publish it as his manifesto. Over the hour, as he painfully slowly dresses himself, Trump expounds his policies on the key issues of dismantling the democratic system, dealing to illegal immigration, beefing up security with imported ‘New Zealand Mexicans’ with whom he was so impressed by the way they play rugby, expanding military presence and power, repealing free speech, and so on. You get the point.
I don’t actually entirely disagree with absolutely every self-servingly biased point Sparrow’s Trump has to make. In particular, his contempt for ‘dumbocracy’ as he calls it rings true inasmuch as his success stands as living proof of the dangers of letting every individual citizen cast their vote. But the source of that danger is not the ideology per se, rather the systematic disenfranchisement of well-meaning people, and media education systems designed to keep people confused and/or ignorant.
There are plenty of divergent arguments against our controversially leftist derision of his smugly entitled insensitivity and undisguised stance of pure self-interest, no doubt being had all over the interweb at this very moment. His opponent was a Wall Street puppet; the system controls us unfairly whoever’s running it … That kind of thing. I crave the solace such cynical idealism offers but, for now, cannot shake this despair for humanity. Based on the evidence provided by the admittedly dubious media that called this race much closer than it played out, the dangers of Hillary running the show seemed like a better problem to have than the one the world now has.
Anyway, the play… Sparrow’s impersonation is sufficiently penetrating, not quite as on point as Alec Baldwin’s but up there with the likes of Johnny Depp. His script mines the depths of the grotesque irony that personifies the man himself, with a handful of original burns that cause me to laugh out loud in spite of myself.
If Trump had lost it would be easy to relax and chuckle at the skewering of a man more born to be disdainfully parodied than anyone else in our time. Because he didn’t, the comedy is exponentially darker: funny, clever and depressing.
I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to check it out regardless of all the above, including my arguably contentious use of this forum as a political-soapbox-after-the-fact for which I apologise but am unable to stop myself doing in this instance.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Editor November 10th, 2016
Here is Nik Smythe’s review of THE PRESIDENT on RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan 1-4.
Unnervingly astute political satire
Review by John Smythe 02nd Nov 2016
When The President opened in Hamilton then Palmerston North last week, a poll-fed complacency was settling in: Hillary Clinton Was going to become the next President of the United States (POTUS); Donald Trump would lose. Then came the great Comey over-reaching of his supposedly apolitical FBI position (summarised here) and now it’s anybody’s guess what the outcome will be.
The premise of Alexander Sparrow’s latest solo show is that Donald Trump has settled into the White House and we are being treated to the outline for his next book: indeed there’s a promise that whoever among us takes good notes and presents the best plan will get the book deal. (Yeah right – until he find fault with some detail of grammar or layout and so refuses to pay?)
Following a sonic medley of media soundbites and an impressive swirl of red-white-and-blue floodlights, Sparrow’s Trump saunters in fresh from the tanning room and hair-dresser in a white bathrobe and fluffy slippers. “We did it,” he crows. “It’s unbelievable, believe me.” Yup – the oxymoron king is in our faces big league.
There is plenty to chuckle at initially: Sparrow has Trump’s trademark phrases, intensifiers and hand gestures down to a T (aka tittle, rhymes with little); the size of various appendages comes up for discussion; we find out what the Trump Dump is … His name-dropping Salman Rushdie as a big fan is a well-timed lie for those who have seen the Booker Prize-winner’s 1 November Facebook post.
When he regales us with the tale of how he’s become POTUS (via an atrocious contravention of the Constitution: are we surprised?), the way Trump tells it is such a powerful reminder of his sociopathic – if not psychopathic – personality, our capacity to relax back and have a good laugh is severely tempered.
Trump’s racism, narcissism and self-serving business strategies also get a good airing as the book’s outline emerges, covering his policies-to-be-implemented on democracy, immigration, security, his three armies plan, global warming, ‘free’ speech (think ‘free market’) and competition (think takeovers).
As astutely directed by Patrick Davies, the hour is neatly pitched to provoke our political sensibilities. It is all delivered with such casual confidence, we get a good sense of how vigilant we must be not to accept any part of it as the new normal.
Visually the play is structured as the reverse of a strip-tease (a dress-please? Yes – please dress!) with good gags involving the difficulty of gesturing and dressing simultaneously. We need such light relief.
For the avoidance of doubt, the president’s ultimate plans become increasingly outrageous yet remain totally consistent with Trump’s value system. What’s unsettling is the realisation is that a number of ‘great leaders’ with the same modus operandi are in power right now around the world. That we also recognise them from recent right through to ancient history offers no comfort; quite the reverse.
This week, The President is an unnervingly astute work of political satire set in the not-too-distant future. When it opens in Auckland, at The Classic Studio, the election results will be coming in. Audiences will know whether the light up ahead signifies the end of the tunnel the ‘free world’ has felt trapped in, or the freight train hurting towards us; they will know nature of the bullet they have dodged or sit mesmerised at its approach.
Either way The President is an entertaining way to bear witness to an extraordinary moment in history. Grab the opportunity – Trump: the Musical (which I am sure a number of creative people are working on right now) is a while off yet.
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Review by Adam Dodd 29th Oct 2016
One of the things I have been told, especially when I have not been disposed to believe it, is that laughter is the best medicine. It’s a nuanced truth and one we tend to peevishly forget when of a mind to, but a social truth nonetheless – best remembered in a communal breaking of tensions and easing of minds. This in part is why Theatre is pointed to as Healer. Especially when some – such as myself – feel like being a bit poetic. It permits the exploration of the subverse, the perverse, horrors and hardships.
Satire isn’t always comfortable or easy to watch but when it’s done well it is one of Theatre’s great physics, and one of my favourites. Alexander Sparrow (writer and performer) does satire well.
The President grants us intimate access to the confidences of Donald J. Trump in the immediate wake of his ascendance to the presidency. I find myself vying for the privileged opportunity to ghost-write Trump’s next book. As the action unfolds and the absurdity ramps, Trump outlines the chapters, leading us through his ‘beautiful’ vision. The logic doesn’t always hold, it’s revisionist and at times self-contradictory, but it is near the bone.
This works for and against the play. Funny from the outset, it is still difficult to laugh outright. I find the reality of it disturbing and it is only with a certain threshold of absurdity that I am released and find I can wholeheartedly enjoy myself. Only then is the boil lanced, the physic taking hold.
Even so, as the play builds momentum, there are times I need to look away. The discomforting believability of Sparrow’s Trump is disconcerting. If I avert my eyes, perhaps I can convince myself that these opinions are just a fabrication and have no true reflection in the world. My traitorous eyes return to appreciate Sparrow’s nuance of physicality and clever use of momentary action. Care and attention has been given to internalising Trump’s mannerisms and gestures.
With equal skill and attentiveness, director Patrick Davies has shaped each moment of the delivery to heighten the parody, crafting a brilliant caricature of self-possessed greatness. There is a great deal of artifice to the show – ideas, a touch too belaboured; actions, too deliberate – but this works and it is cleverly wrought. I note also that this is only the third time the show has been staged, and expect the few rough edges will be polished out.
With minimal – but well employed – set and lighting states, The President is well crafted for touring and events. The show runs at just under an hour with only one more night in Palmerston North. So if you want a disconcertingly funny evening – with a scarcity of empathy or decency; a surplus of confidence and conviction – make sure to see The President while you can.
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Accurate impersonation with hilarity, racism, rants and superb timing
Review by Gail Pittaway 27th Oct 2016
Almost too gruesome to be parodic, Alexander Sparrow’s brilliant Donald Trump impersonation and script takes us into what passes for a mind of its subject, indeed into his bedroom. We get to know him down to his skin as he slowly pontificates after his morning shower, clipping the toenails of policy and human rights and leaving them all over the floor.
It’s the week after the elections and Trump has finally cleaned up the opposition. The audience is invited to a special audience with The Don as he dons his characteristic white shirt, blue suit and red tie. The deal is, we have paid to see him, so clearly freedom of speech is no longer free. We’re there, we are told, to assist him write his new book, THE PRESIDENT, and chapter by chapter he reveals his goals and policies; about being American, not African-American or Mexican let alone Kenyan-American like his predecessor; about security – don’t worry the wall should cover it, once the non-Americans have been shoved out or annihilated.
He explains how his policies on media, money and trade will simplify life for Americans.
The big reveal to his final horrific plan to ensure the succession of the Trump empire materialises as he clothes himself item by item from crisp white y-fronts, in an on–dressing routine, while he strip-teases politics and humanity in general, people of colour and women in particular. ‘Noo Zeeland’ also has a place in his vision as he announces that [spoiler averted].
As politics this is scarily close to the truth, with many of Trumps phrases and gestures captured so skilfully and repeated tirelessly in a convincing semblance of the man’s vacuity. The hand gestures ‒ big and open, outstretched, in ‘trust me’ TV evangelical formation, the curled thumb and finger to dig into an argument – the head lowered and those bushy eyebrows and hard eyes confronting any opposition. And oh my god, the hair and makeup! Even a parodic hair style cannot parody Trump’s outrageous quiff to the full extent, but Alexander Sparrow goes all out on bleach and spray to match the thatch and caked fake tan!
As theatre it is fabulous, an accurate impersonation, offering laugh out loud hilarity, with shocking racism, anti-Hilary Clinton rants and superbly timed lines. Sparrow knows how to work a crowd, even a small, somewhat reluctant crowd, but cleverly uses the interactive element lightly, to enforce the egotism of the character and subject.
Patrick Davies’ direction has given this show a finesse that well deserves great audiences, and with a sound collage of talking heads on the USA elections, to open and set the scene, and a simple effective lighting script this portable show might well take over the one-hander comedy scene in Noo Zeeland.
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