BOORISH TRUMPSON at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
“Good clowning always has a deeper significance bubbling away under the surface, and Parry knows how to connect with that”
Lecoq trained clown Clare Parry takes on the role of rehearsal conductor in Boorish Trumpson —standing in for Sir Simon Rattle, who has been mysteriously delayed. As Boorish Trumpson, and with a puzzling East European accent, Parry is on stage to give the audience a first hand experience of life in an orchestra under the baton of a power mad conductor. There is nervous laughter in the audience at Trumpson’s initial entrance, and with good reason. It doesn’t take us long to realize that we are going to be the hapless musicians in this orchestra. It is even more unnerving to discover that Boorish isn’t really a conductor at all, but merely a rehearsal pianist.
It does take a while to figure out the plot in Boorish Trumpson. Why does Parry choose the name Boorish Trumpson? There is a clever use of Trump-like and Boris-like body language in this show, and even some of DT and BJ’s signature phrases, but this is a show about musicians, not politicians. The connection feels a bit forced. And anyway, Trumpson, for all his shortcomings, is a real musician. He has a heart. And he has musical standards. All of which is rich material for a clown with Parry’s skills to draw upon.
Parry’s main strength as a performer, in addition to the physical skills, is audience rapport. It doesn’t take her long to get the audience playing silly instruments, or moving music stands around to Trumpson’s exacting standards, or even being forced to endure the humiliation of being named Olga, when that is nothing like your real name. The humour in Boorish Trumpson springs from the recognition that this conductor is hopelessly inept at people skills. Trumpson is a bully, an abuser, but he also tries hard to ingratiate, to please. He wants the rehearsal for the Proms to succeed so badly, that the audience can’t help but get drawn into helping him.
Nevertheless, watching Boorish Trumpson is a curiously moral experience as we learn how to recognize abuse, and, rather creepily, get drawn into doing exactly what the abuser wants. Fortunately, Parry reminds us at every moment that this isn’t real life. The comedy in this show also springs from our recognition that Trumpson is a vulnerable little man, hampered by incapacitating flashbacks to his own abusive past. Watching Trumpson contort himself around the stage forcing us into his orchestra makes us realize, paradoxically, that we are good people, and we can play a little. Good clowning always has a deeper significance bubbling away under the surface, and Parry knows how to connect with that.
Boorish Trumpson does seem overly long at sixty minutes, and with such a slender plot. Parry is such an inspired clown, however, and improvises so brilliantly with the admittedly very poor collection of “musicians” that Trumpson has to work with, that by the end of the show, any audience will find themselves won over. Catch Boorish Trumpson while you can. But if you too, develop the urge to become a conductor, and take over your local orchestra, beware. Boorish Trumpson is all about the pitfalls of such a path, and why it’s best to stay out of the orchestra pit — if you can.
Reviewed 8th August 2022
by Dominica Plummer
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