REVIEW: The People vs Donald Trump (The London Theatre) ★

If there is any silver lining at all to the grimness of recent global affairs, it’s arguably the gift bestowed on political satirists. Sadly, that gift is squandered by ‘The People vs Donald Trump’, which is more screwball than satire and frustratingly low on wit.

Written and directed by former US trial lawyer Max Lopert, the play takes us through a series of ‘behind closed doors’ interactions between Trump (energetically played by Matthew Shelton) and various stooges, including Putin, Jeff Sessions and his daughter Ivanka. A realistically guileless Melania gets to deliver all her expositional dialogue with a passable Slovenian lilt. ‘Just because you’re President doesn’t mean you can do anything you want!’ she exclaims to her husband; a statement he obviously goes on to bulldoze across the 90 minute show, which culminates in a ‘part-improvised’ trial led by Lopert as the star attorney.

After a frenetic race through Trump’s crimes, the court cross-examination had me longing for the end of the show. Lopert may be a lawyer, but he could learn a thing or two about dramatic tension from The Good Wife. There was one point where the audience leaned forward in their seats to listen more closely – it was when they played a YouTube video of the real Trump contradicting himself on a range of issues, from abortion to immigration. Ironically, the breezy duplicity on display in the 2 minute clip is the most powerful moment of the show.

‘The People vs’ points and laughs at Donald Trump, but we can all do that. There’s nothing here that will give you a fresh angle on your own sardonic musings next time you see his face on the news. It’s a silly show about a stupid man. The best satire is clever, sadly this is not.

Reviewed by April Delaney