Trump in Space
Reviewed by Lara J. Altunian
The Second City Hollywood Studio Theatre
Through April 27
Trump in Space combines adventure, romance, politics and Broadway song-and-dance numbers to create a goofy and memorable parody of the current political climate in the U.S. Written by Gillian Bellinger and Landon Kirksey, this Hollywood Fringe Festival award-winning musical emphasizes self-awareness while remaining silly enough to take the edge off the tense feelings usually prompted by the name “Trump.”
The year is 2417. In the last four centuries, humanity has finally used up all of its resources on Earth as a direct consequence of decisions made during Trump’s administration. Two spaceships are racing to reach a new, inhabitable planet known as Polaris IV to try and colonize it first: the United States of Commerce, led by Donald J. Trump’s descendant Natasha Trump (Jessie Sherman), and the Starship California whose captain is Barry (short for Barack) Sanders (Scott Palmason). From there, the plot devolves into a Romeo-and-Juliet style love story that shines a comic light on problems in both political parties, who continue to wrangle much as they do now for 400 more years. Even someone sick of hearing about politics can enjoy the rapid-fire jokes delivered by the versatile cast as they bounce around the stage yelling “Namaste” and “Opportunity at all costs!” (guess which side says what) and mock each other when they sing off-key.
The night I attended, audience members were rolling in their seats thanks to the clever writing, which is peppered with enough Star Wars and Star Trek jokes to make fans of space thrillers happy. A simple set — three rolling office chairs (serving as navigation console seats) and a few curtains and room dividers for a backdrop — allow for quick transitions between scenes. A keyboard adds to the (purposely) cheesier, more sentimental songs (written by Tony Gonzalez and Sam Johnides) while a few ridiculous party anthems, such as DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat”, which samples “Hollywood Swinging,” introduce the United States of Commerce’s mysterious, hooded overlord, who likes to make big entrances. (They are huge — no one makes bigger entrances than he does. Nobody.) All of the sound effects are made by the performers, while half of the space gadgets’ effects are pantomimed. It all adds to the production’s tasteful campiness.
Director Frank Caeti guides the actors through a few twists and turns that pull viewers in a little bit further with every passing minute, up to the very end. Clocking in at one hour, Trump in Space is everything its title implies and more. It may even leave you feeling lighter as it sucks the gravity out of today’s political nightmare and channels it into original silly satire.
The Second City Hollywood Studio Theatre, 6560 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., 8 p.m.; through Apr. 27. (323) 464-8542 or https://www.secondcity.com/shows/hollywood/trump-space-musical/. Running time: 1 hour with no intermission.