Vault Festival 2018: Great Again: The Musical
It is difficult at first to ascertain what meaning writer Isla van Tricht intended to be gleaned from Great Again: The Musical. Although we seem invited to sympathise with Trump-supporting characters, they are so unsympathetic and poorly sketched that the viewer can begin to feel that it must be a veiled criticism, right up until about 40 minutes in when the other shoe has failed to drop.
If intended to be a satire of Trump voters, Great Again fails. If intended to be an examination of why people from minorities – since the focal characters are a young woman, a gay teenager and a black man – would vote for a figure like Trump, then it is unilluminating. There is much singing about their choice to support their candidate but, since the characters have already made the decision by the time the play starts, little nuanced examination of why. A character intended to be the voice of working class America rumbles vaguely about financial security, another sings about Hillary Clinton’s supposed crookedness, but these are arguments that anyone who kept abreast of the 2016 US election has already heard many times before. The chief conflict of the play thus consists of these characters defending their viewpoint against a plethora of incensed liberals, which is tedious to watch, or seeing their friendship threatened when one of them begins to doubt, which is even more tedious.
Great Again: The Musical’s runtime of over an hour is undeserved and the attempts it makes to elicit the audience’s sympathy for characters they have only just met fall flat. The score from composer Guy Woolf, who has done good work in other projects, is also forgettable, although perhaps not helped by the occasional wobbly singing from some of the performers. Ultimately, it is difficult to understand what the staging of this musical was meant to add to the wealth of discourse already surrounding the election of Donald Trump. Art that entertains us doesn’t always have to have a serious message but, seeing as this show so failed to entertain, a serious, coherent message might have at least helped.
Photo: Old Sole Theatre Company
Great Again: The Musical is at Vault Festival 2018 from 25th until 28th January 2018. For further information or to book visit the festival website here.