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A review of 'Trompe L’Oeil' written by Henry Parkman Biggs playing at The Other Palace Theatre

Guest post by Amrat Khorana


This play has the tagline 'A Queer Love Story', and there is certainly one among so many other elements. There is a good chance that all of your senses will be overwhelmed, and this isn't for everyone.

Image showing a character impersonating Donald Trump on a dark and smoky stage
Trompe L'Oeil at The Other Palace. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Trompe L'Oeil portrays Donald Trump's presidency in an artful yet unusual way, which only comes to light when you're seated in The Other Palace Theatre's studio. The play consists of two key stories: a love story between Democrat Demi (Dominic Booth) and Republican Rip (Alex Wadham), which explores how their opposing political perspectives impacts their love for each other as well as how Demi’s transgender identity is received by Rip, who initially cannot process this ‘deceit’. Demi has a strong presence on stage, and they both exhibit great chemistry. Alex Wadham (as Rip) sings with an emotive quality to his voice; it was a delight to hear him. Another story revolves around a Faustian bargain that Trump (played by Emer Dineen) makes with Vlaimir Putin to ensure he becomes president. It's a strange deal, with Trump agreeing to have a vice placed on his testicles, which tightens any time Trump fails to deliver his promise.


Several of the things we all know about Trump's presidency are covered in this play, including his ridiculous tweeting, the wall, his response to the pandemic, and losing the election. There was a lot of slapstick and over the top acting, but perhaps this was intentional.

A colourful stage full of characters lining up to jump on a small trampoline. Image shows a character doing the splits in the air after jumping on the trampoline.
Trompe L'Oeil at The Other Palace. Photo by Danny Kaan.

Certainly, there was good cabaret and circus, and you could see the influence of famous surrealist artwork such as the Escherian Stairwell, Magritte's apples, and Salvador Dali's melting clocks. There was a sense that your innermost thoughts that you do not want to say out loud were played out loud in this play. Quite frankly, it was bonkers! It is not something you can prepare for by just reading the introduction or description of the play, which is another reason why it takes you by surprise like a slap in the face.


The play contains sexual language and content, sexism and misogyny, strong language, racist language, hate speech, loud noises, flashing lights, so be aware. I guess this is the nature of the people they portray. This show has energetic and fun music, but the most sincere moments are when Rip and Demi sing to each other.


You will either love this show or hate it, but you must see beyond the initial visual and aural over-delivery to find some gems. It is some splendid acting and singing performance (aside from the over-acting), as well as a very funny impression of Tump. Initially, I wasn’t sure about this musical but on some reflection think it might be worth a watch.


Cast:

  • Emer Dineen (Trump) was recently seen as Elizabeth in Middle Child Theatre’s drag king cabaret, ‘Modest’ at the Kiln Theatre.

  • Alex Wadham (RIP) was Julian Marsh in ‘42nd Street’ Upstairs at the Gatehouse and recently played Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and Bad Idea Bear in ‘Avenue Q’ (both Old Joint Stock Theatre).

  • Craig Bartley (Chateau LaFitte) is currently in ‘The Third Man’ at Menier Chocolate Factory and before that played Mingo in ‘Crazy for You’ at Chichester Festival Theatre.

  • Dominic Booth (Demi) was in the recent tour of ‘We Will Rock You’.

  • Olivia Saunders (Ivanka) made her professional debut in ‘Hex’ at the National Theatre as cover Fairy and Queen Regina.

  • Sarah Louise Hughes (The Imitator) was LV (Little Voice) in ‘The Rise and Fall of Little Voice’ at the Barn Theatre, ‘News Revue’ at Canal Cafe Theatre.

  • William Elijah Lewis (Ensemble) makes his London stage debut after several cruise ship engagements.

  • Yasmin Sharp (Ensemble) was recently in ‘Chase The Musical’ at The Other Palace Studio.

Full creative team:

  • Book, Music and Lyrics: Henry Parkman Biggs

  • Director: Blair Anderson

  • Musical Director: Georgia Rawlins

  • Musical Supervisor/Arranger: Mark Crossland

  • Associate Musical Supervisor: Laurence Stannard

  • Choreographer: Blair Anderson

  • Associate Choreographer: Thomas Ashton

  • Producer: Funky Tickle Productions

  • General Management: Carter Dixon McGill

  • Set Designer: Justin Williams

  • Costume Designer: Reuben Speed

  • Lighting Designer: Jack Weir


Venue:

The Other Palace

Studio

12 Palace Street

London SW1E 5JA


Dates: 28 September - 15 October 2023


Time:

Weekday evenings at 20:00

Saturday matinees at 15:00, evenings at 20:00

Sunday matinees at 14:00, evenings at 18:00


Prices: Tickets from £20


Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes



Box Office: 020 7592 0302

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