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BWW Review: THE TRUMP CARD at Stray Cat Theatre

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Credit goes to Mike Daisey, monologist and satirist extraordinaire, for a pre-Election no holds barred searing (with a red hot branding iron) diatribe to the choir about the 2016 celebrity candidate for the Presidency. THE TRUMP CARD is Daisey's ace-in-the-hole expose of the game and the gamble that the guy in the Tower is playing on the American voter. It's a series of ripped-from-the-headlines-and-backstories revelations about the ascendance of Donald Trump and the x factors (principally, his father Fred and later the infamous Roy Cohn) that defined his worldview and behavior.

Credit to Ron May for effectively channeling Daisey's snark and sarcasm. He does a grand job at replicating Daisey's unsettling charm and ferocity with a demeanor and timing that is impeccable. In Stray Cat Theatre's adaptation, directed by Katie McFadzen, May deals (sometimes with tiny hands) each of Daisey's cards with an intensity that is raw and visceral. You can feel the volcano of derision rumbling under his composed surface.

There's really nothing in Daisey's unflattering hagiology of Saint Donald that is new ~ unless you've been oblivious to the reports on social media, cable news, and the press. Yet, in the confines of the theatre, it feels revelatory. Actually, it serves as a psychological reinforcement for the anxious and uncertain crowd, awaiting November 8th's electoral verdict.

THE TRUMP CARD is in the end a conscientiously designed catharsis for liberals. Why else would folks in the know show up? Daisey acknowledges as much in his opening salvo, observing that all present are there for the red meat.

However, Daisey's monologue does not relieve the audience, neither the right nor the left wings of the political spectrum, of responsibility for the phenomenon that is Trump. On Daisey's behalf, May delivers the acidic reproach about the convergence over time of cynicism, coded racism, and benign neglect and their consequences with just enough of an accusatory long finger to make the crowd self-consciously squirm.

THE TRUMP CARD is theatre and entertainment in the style of Spalding Gray/Jon Stewart/John Oliver/Saturday Night Live. Its two-weekend run at Tempe Center for the Arts Studio Theatre ended on November 6th. After the 8th, of course, it won't matter much. The full deck will have been dealt, and another monologue will be in the making.

Photo credit to John Groseclose


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