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Adelaide Fringe 2016

Bill Clinton Hercules

Central Standard Theatre

Genre: Mainstream Theatre, Talk, Theatre

Venue: The Bakehouse Theatre – 255 Angas Street, Adelaide


Low Down

With Seamus Heaney’s allegorical play The Cure at Troy at its centre, Bill Clinton Hercules takes a candid look at the life of the 42nd President as he cuts loose and shoots straight from the hip in his own fantasy TED talk. From the Trojan Wars to the future of democracy, his dreams, regrets, hopes and passions, Occupy, Hillary and Monica … a life epic in its own right.


Perhaps in the current political state of the world and election campaign happening in America this show was particularly compelling. Bob Paisley plays Bill Clinton and welcomes us with ‘Let my mind light up your mind’ – he starts with an excerpt from The Cure at Troy, his favourite poem. In this poem Odysseus, Neoptolemus and Philoctetes battle their pride and weaknesses, in the same way Clinton did. He describes how he encapsulated each of these characters and the one glorious moment he felt like Hercules, dealing the hand of justice and truth.

Presented as a TED talk, Clinton starts at the beginning – his childhood in Hope, Arkansas idolising John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He describes meeting Hillary Clinton at Yale and travelling with her to England. The profound part of the presentation was the insights into his thoughts and reflection on his time as President. He tells the audience about the other political leaders he met during his time and his relationships with them, the time spent with members of his staff eating pizza and playing cards, snowball fights with Chelsea and … Monica Lewinski. He briefly touches on their relationship and the events that led to the scandal, but this brevity is enough for this presentation.

The audience hangs onto his every word as he admits his mistakes, reveals his dream for a better world, his hope that he did the best that he could under the circumstances. Bob Paisley gave an uncanny impression of the infamous ex-President. He stayed true to character throughout the show; it was like watching Clinton himself charm the audience with his Arkansas brogue, suave manner and intimate details about himself.

Bill Clinton Hercules was a phenomenal piece of theatre and exceeded all expectations.