Los Angeles Theater Review: THE TRUMP CARD (Mike Daisey at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica)

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by Tony Frankel on October 5, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


The virtues of monologist Mike Daisey are many. He’s gifted at societal critique; he creates awesome mental pictures; and he’s a wiz at diagnosing and dissecting our modern world. Part journalist, part storyteller, part embellisher, part memoirist, the corpulent and energetic Daisey performs his shows seated at a table–quite often mopping his brow–as he commentates and fulminates about present day issues through a liberal theatrical lens.


His latest target is Donald Trump. Well, not just the Donald but the people responsible for his rise to power: Trump’s father, a racist who created a $400 million real estate empire; Roy Cohn (yes, the very same bloodsucking closeted thug lawyer who aided McCarthy in the HUAC hearings) who was Trump’s advisor and confidante (nay, consigliere) for 13 years; and you. Yes, the intelligent and insightful Daisey pointed something out to the Broad Stage’s audience in Santa Monica: The mostly white, well-off liberals (the latter is an educated guess by Daisey, who tells us “After all, you are in the American Theater”) are complicit in Trump’s frightening political ascent. After all, don’t we love fame and rich people just as much as Republicans? The Trump Card, which moves on to La Jolla, San Francisco, and Chicago, showcases Daisey’s genius just as much as his previous efforts.


As Daisey interpolated stories from his life–playing “Trump: The Game” with friends, his racist grandfather–I found myself wishing that he would bring his rant full circle to our responsibility in our current political quagmire. But the monologue, overly long at 2 and 1/2 uninterrupted hours, meanders and is in desperate need of dramaturgy; I wondered why director Isaac Butler doesn’t have Daisey pull in the reins. It’s strange that a monologue can be so energizing and enervating at the same time.


Whether or not Daisey beats a dead horse and seemingly rambles, the deluge of cascading opinions mingled with humorous anecdotes and life coaching has astoundingly compelling moments and delicious vocabulary (he refers to Trump’s demeanor on The Apprentice as “an enormous dyspeptic toad”). But it is interesting to notice that Daisey can be as blustery, rambling, and twisty as someone running for office.

photos by Ursa Waz

The Trump Card
The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage
1310 11th St in Santa Monica
played September 29, 2016
for tickets, call 310.434.3200 or visit The Broad

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