Theatre Review: Building The Wall, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park
- Credit: Photo by Mark Douet
Dystopian slow-burn thriller fires a warning shot about Donald Trump’s vision of America
BUILDING THE WALL
Performed all over Robert Schenkkan’s native US and as far afield as Tehran, this is the first UK production of Building the Wall. With uncomfortable echoes of Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, it has become one of the most significant critiques yet of Trump’s chilling vision of America.
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Set in November 2019 in a glass-walled interview room: handcuffed and wearing an orange jump suit, Rick meets Gloria.
She is an academic who wants to write down Rick’s true story before “...people change it, distort it, revise it.”
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The set is stark with strip lighting, a screwed down table. Dialogue is amplified against the constant and sometimes frightening industrial and human sounds of the penitentiary.
In a slow burn eighty minutes, we learn Rick’s story. He’s a regular family guy with the same potential and dreams of tens of millions other Americans who feel that they have been left behind. But, bit by bit, he has turned from an ordinary Joe to someone facing charges that have led to a death sentence.
The dialogue is tight and uncompromising: the story emerges like watching a documentary about the Nazi’s Final Solution and with it comes deeply troubling detail.
Schenkkan has set out to explore what it was in Trump’s message that got him elected, and the consequences of making America Great Again, of continually pointing to outsiders as the root of the county’s problems and never missing an opportunity to salute the flag and sing the national anthem.
Angela Griffin’s Gloria and Trevor White’s Rick (psychopath or victim?) are superb, and together deliver an intense performance that clearly left them drained.
This is not a perfect play, some of the plot is a tad ragged, but it is an important warning about the perilous path that Donald J and his sociopathic inner circle have consciously planned and charted.
We should pray that Building the Wall remains a warning and not a premonition.