Fresh out of a successful Off-Broadway run in 2021, musical Trump L’Oeil will have its UK premiere at Upstairs at The Gatehouse this autumn. This surrealist musical exploration of Trump’s presidency brings a tongue-in-cheek retelling of the Trump years and blends cabaret, queer theatre and circus.
Inspired by Escher’s stairwell, Magritte’s apples and Dali’s melting clocks, the songs are themselves textual illusions as the writer, Henry Parkman Biggs, uses acrostics, anagrams and lipograms to craft hidden messages within the songs, taking his 30-year lyrical commitment in this area as the artist Headmess to a whole new level. With a wide range of musical influences, from rap to bubblegum pop, this cheeky and challenging musical presents a decidedly unique blend of art and politics through the artistic technique of trompe l’oeil (optical illusion).
Life hilariously imitates art as Trump and his presidency are marched through a series of surrealist art and trompe l’oeil landscapes. Directed by Oli Savage (Echoes of You, Lesnes Abbey Park; As You Like It, Greenhouse Theatre; The Voices We Hear, Greenhouse Theatre), choreographed by Blair Anderson (Footloose, UK Tour; Snow White, Radlett Centre; Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, Wyvern Theatre), and with musical supervision by Mark Crossland (We Will Rock You, World Tour; 9-5 The Musical, West End & International; Footloose, UK Tour), the musical follows Trump as he ascends to power and the world flips on its head – which is great for some, hard for others, and for everyone, just a little surreal.
Director Oli Savage comments, For people in the English-speaking world – especially outside of the USA – the Trump administration was one of the most horrifically surreal periods in modern political history. And the scars from that period are far from healed. But nothing heals like laughter. With this show, we’re taking a blend of satire, drag, circus, cabaret, with a healthy dollop of surrealist art to show just how crazy that period was. But more than that, we’re trying to have fun, and by taking the piss out of a very, very dark time, create a sense of joy, amusement, and hope.
Writer Henry Parkman Biggs adds, After six years of developing Trump L’Oeil, I am thrilled to see this spectacular vision for the show in its London debut. The exemplary energy of the director, Oli Savage, tirelessly tinkering to improve, Mark Crossland’s crafting a coherent musical whole, and Blair Anderson’s thoughtful and creative choreography, have all added immeasurably. They are all absolute stars in their own right, and I could not be more grateful for their talents. I have also been grateful for their engagement in exploring the idea of “trompe l’oeil” as well as surrealism and how that might manifest in their respective spaces. The show is so much the richer for it.
Trump L’Oeil is at Upstairs at The Gatehouse Wednesday 7th September – Sunday 2nd October.