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REVIEW: Lady and the Trump (Brave New Workshop)

Lady and the Trump is the latest comedy show from Brave New Workshop (BNW) and opened last week. BNW is well-known for its social and political humors based on certain themes. Like the Saturday Night Live television show, BNW is probably at its best when it weaves together comedy skits into a show that focuses on American Politics. As the title indicates, the current show is about the 2016 Presidential election. Given the rich fodder this year’s Presidential election has wrought, I expected and gleefully found an outstanding comedy show. Director Caleb McEwen and the writers/performers hilariously lampoons both Trump and Clinton.

The cast of Lady and the Trump.
The cast of Lady and the Trump.

This show’s Trump is played by Ryan Nelson, who definitely has Trump’s expressions and mannerism down pat. Given that a comedy show about Trump can simply rely on quoting the candidate, this show is able to take his absurdities to an even higher level of comedy. Clinton is played in contrasting form by both Lauren Anderson and Taj Ruler, who share an amusing scene titled “The Hillarys” with such lines as “I’ve never let me down before. Why would I start now when I need myself the most?” Others in the show include veteran Tom Reed and new cast member Andy Raft who injects some freshness into the ensemble.

In another wry scene, Clinton and husband do a rundown of Bill’s presidential attributes, pointing out the negative names that Hillary is called when she exhibits the same qualities. A great running gag of the show concerns Jeb Bush and how he became the “cellophane man” of this election year. The most insightful skit concerns social media, portraying how ordinary mild mannered people with minor differences explode into highly intense, vicious attack dogs when they convey their feelings via Facebook. However, the Clinton/Trump debate scene seemed more pathetic than funny—the actual political absurdities of the 2016 campaign are just too real.

I consider Lady and the Trump to be Brave New Workshop’s best show this year; the laughs are in high gear for most of the performance. The main downside is BNW’s increasing overuse of profanities, such that they eventually lose their shock and comic value.

For those unfamiliar with BNW, before making any post-show plans, do note that there is a special, free-to-ticketholders late night improv session after the main performance.

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Lady and the Trump is now playing at the Brave New Workshop Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.

Bev Wolfe
Bev Wolfe is a Staff Reviewer at the Twin Cities Arts Reader. She is an attorney and avid theatre fan who has written theatre reviews for local publications since 2008. She is also an Ivey Awards evaluator.
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