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The 47th review | This is local London

The 47th is a coin that can only be described as a chill. A chilling memory of what was. And a chilling reminder of what could be. The United States of America is one of today’s leading global superpowers, but for a land often described as utopian, it is riddled with underlying problems; from class differences to extremist groups, the self-proclaimed American dream is one that is beginning to fade in the eyes of many. For many, they felt that the country had reached its eleventh hour with the election of its 45th president. A man with close ties to the Russian oligarchs and a head only for traditionalism, money and sovereignty. With the election of its 46th president, America has returned to the hands of its Democratic Party. The 47th is a play about what would happen if we went back to 2016 and how today’s Republican Party threatens to destroy the American Dream once and for all.

The play begins with a chilling monologue given by Donald Trump – performed by Bertie Carvel. Carvel is absolutely realistic in its portrayal. From the moment the lights come on, you’re faced with a man who needs no introduction. We feel that it is undoubtedly him in the room. Every actor continues with this level of authenticity. It’s hard not to find yourself a fly on that wall of what you feel is a pivotal moment that will impact the rest of the world for years to come. During this flight, you follow history through the collapse of Joe Biden and the rise of Vice President Kamala Harris as she steps into the role of President.

However, at the same time, you are presented with the rise of Ivanka Trump, a foil for the beloved vice president. She’s smart, capable, and cunning – and she’s everything her father isn’t. Slowly the story changes to follow Charlie Takahashi, played by James Cooney, a Democratic journalist who follows Trump in his new presidential campaign. He is joined by his sister, a new Republican who shares the view of many people across the country – that the Democratic Party has let America down. Charlie is taken to a rally the night where he can talk to many Republicans about their opinions and experiences. Meanwhile, you begin to see the danger of extremist conservative groups and the threat they pose to modern democracy.

One of the most important elements highlighted by the piece was the depth of the two ruling parties in the United States. It’s made clear by Republicans that they understand their role as villains in most mainstream American news, but are adamant that it’s much less black and white than that. It is true that today many voters are blocked in their choices. Many people continue to vote for the same parties their parents voted for regardless of the individual candidates running in their area or nationally. Those who try to make informed choices are often unconsciously influenced by news and media which is usually controlled by something much bigger.

As a viewer, your role as an audience member seemed to fade, overshadowed by the gravity of what was our past and what could be a very tangible future. In a numbing scene before intermission, the play confronts you with the ghosts of America’s past, including recognizable figures from the Capitol storming. And again, you can’t help but be transported. From there, the world turns lucid and destructive with rampages, riots, and uncontrollable chaos. Throughout the play, Harris begs Trump to stop this destruction and he refuses again and again. It’s a stark reminder of the kind of danger citizens face as countries continue their efforts to retain unnecessary sovereignty in the wake of a rapidly interconnecting world.

In the final scene, Trump is confined to a hospital bed. He is alone. Only Harris is with him. She tells him that no one is coming for him and no one is willing to pay for the medical care he needs. For the first time, he is put on an equal footing with all other American citizens. The play ends with his death and yet that is not the end of the story. From the shadow of the ex-president his daughter emerges as an even more threatening new power. Throughout the play, the audience identifies Trump as the overarching problem, as the beating fuel for Republicans across America. But it is not the evil that must be fought. There are bigger issues and they don’t end with the death of one man.