Women of the White House: Make Cabaret Great Again – a show that lampoons the hapless (and quite possibly despairing) Melania Trump and the sinister Kellyanne Conway through song and cabaret. With this premise, the show could not have failed – yet unfortunately it could not reach the lofty heights of amusement it may have gone for either. Which is a shame, because the play had a large potential to go above and beyond in its delivery. This is simply a case of “good show, which delivers good laughs and entertainment, but does not live fully up to its potential”.
That being said, watching Kellyanne Conway being impersonated by a man in drag (Sam Coats) is a nice touch, which makes the show worth it really.
On the positive side of the show, they did fantastic satire. The desperate cries for help for Melania were brilliant – and they both painted the image of a woman who needed help as well as taking some cheap and easy shots at the gluttonous and lecherous Trump (who, let us face it, cannot be more deserving of the sharp wit of the writers). Kellyanne Conway was even better – coming across as a sinister and fiendish character, the writers clearly had a lot of fun giving her (i.e. Coats, a “him” in this case) songs to lampoon her and her delusions of grandeur.
And all of this done without having to rely on overly offensive stereotypes. Good work.
The song choice was pretty decent as well – a healthy mix of straight covers that were thoroughly (in)appropriate for the dialogue, and warped versions that were amusing. There were even some catchy dance and marching numbers that involved cheerleaders singing along (and the audience). The audience were certainly having a good time. Even when utilising the audience – a dangerous gambit for any comedy performance – the performers were able to bring smiles to everyone’s faces and much laughter from across the room. And nothing negative can be said about the singing voices, which were solid despite one or two wrong notes here and there. But this is cabaret, so that makes it part of the fun.
There were, however, two aspects that brought the show down. The first was the venue – although a small venue, Hares & Hyenas still managed to make the room feel a bit empty. Whilst the front near the stage was vibrant and full of energy, the back third of the room seemed to lose whatever energy was being projected out. This was not a problem of the performers – they were both solid and did what they could, and were full of energy (some of it nervous) – but rather the venue just soaked up that warmth. Which is odd, because it did seem like an intimate venue.
The second issue was that there were times when the performers forgot their lines, and needed prompting. Whether this was due to nerves or being underprepared, it really did a lot to flatten the mood whenever lines were forgotten. Both performers did this, and although they managed to get back into the swing of things (sometimes they even played it for laughs), the 4th wall was broken a little bit.
The situation was not assisted by technical troubles such as music mess-ups and lighting mishaps.
Overall, a fun show, but let down by some under-preparedness and unfortunate technical troubles. Although it was a genuinely amusing show, and many laughs were had (and some uncomfortable ones as well), even with the full house the venue seemed to remove the intimate nature of the show.