Another show at the Vault Festival, I thought Great Again by Old Sole Theatre Company sounded like an interesting political exploration, so I grabbed a ticket and went to see it. Unfortunately the show fall fully flat of whatever it aims to accomplish, which is a mystery even at the end of the show.
From the title and poster, I assumed it would be another satire around the Trump election, but after having seen it, I’m not sure what this show is. It seems impossible to understand what Isla von Tricht intended to show us here, is it a satire of young Trump voters gone wrong? A call for empathy completely failing? An attempt to show why people voted for Trump, which falls flat of its goal? All of these are a possibility, yet none of them make sense after seeing this confusing mess.
The main characters are three young conservatives, all from unlikely minorities but drawn so flatly and with no semblance of personalities that it is difficult to take the characters seriously in any way. Kelsey is a young woman with liberal parents she wants to rebel against, Josh is a young gay man who seems to think liberalism is bad for gay people and conservatives offer a better choice, and John is a young black man who seems enchanted by Trump’s racist ramblings for some unascertainable reason. These three angsty youngsters encourage each other in their belief that Trump is the better solution while complaining about crooked Hillary, all tired tropes by now with no nuance or new revelations on why these disenfranchised people believe Trump would be the good change they seem to want to see.
The music by Guy Woolf is entertaining but wholly unremarkable and the poor sound in the venue means the keyboards are so loud that more than half the lyrics get lost under their blaring sound. The lack of strong voices in the cast doesn’t help either.
Towards the end of the show a now grown up Kelsey starts singing to her baby daughter that she regrets making the choices she did, seemingly apologising for campaigning and voting for Trump, but even this is underlaid with question marks as it’s still unclear to me what this musical is trying to accomplish. The characters are so flat that it’s impossible to feel empathy for them, their reasoning for what they do so shallow and poorly explored that no understanding or revelation can be gleaned from it, the “persecution” by liberals displayed as nothing but reasonable questions asked but not answered by the young Trump supporters makes their reactions to it seem laughable.
I’m still not sure what the writer was trying to achieve here, but whatever it was, it definitely failed. The actors tried their best, but with a mess of a story like this, there’s only so much you can do. One and a half out of six rainbow sloths for effort.