Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Exactly as it says on the tin, Jack Klaff animates Boris Johnson and Donald Trump in an hour-long question and answer session, improvised from questions posed by the audience.
An hour-long and certainly not reeking of stagecraft, Jack Klaff successfully brings two barely legal blondes to life before our very eyes and allows us to ask them questions. Donald Trump, the more than controversial challenger for the White House, possibly skint, and certainly aware of his media appeal; biker Boris Johnson, purveyor of barbecues and successful commentator on his own rises and falls and further rises – both are realised skilfully on stage at this intimate venue on the Free Fringe at Edinburgh.
But the stage-ness is all with Klaff. No complicated lighting is needed here because it is Klaff and his own easy charisma that shines the spotlight on we, the audience, seeking questions that he improvises answers to that are better than any script that could be written. Who needs lighting then the man himself is generating his own glow? That man has done his research, knows his stuff and takes enough liberties to make the hour fliy by, a brilliant combination of witty humour, cutting commentary and plenty of serious political and philosophical points thrown in. Let’s br honest – this isn’t just portrayal, Klaff’s own slant on life is also in the mix, but that adds to the accessibility – the not too invisible Jack uses improv to help explain these two and a bit of the confusing world of politics in the process.
He looks like both of them but has successfully realised Boris more than Donald, though both a believable and more than enough for us to suspend our disbelief. Here we have them: Johnson and Trump on stage, in conversation with the audience and wrestling with each other – verbally and, at one point, physically.
This is a successfully realised hour, entertaining, informative, disturbing and engaging. Klaff makes both characters appear ridiculous, shrewd, occasionally admirable (or at least understandable) but most of all he creates a bit of a spectacle – a performer, often chatting near light speed, pulling morsels of one-liner genius out of thin air and putting them credibly into the mouths of a pair of buffoons, who are also all-too-human and then we realise it: these folk could well be leading the free world sooner than you think. The vocal and bodily mannerisms are all there; the silences and the gestures.
On the evening I attended, the questions from the audience were intelligent and well thought out, and as the hour progressed, audience members joined in more, feeding questions that pushed Klaff to flesh out the conversation further and aided the flow of the dialogue. We learned more of this twosome, whose common ground is not only the shade of their hair, but also their view of leadership and of we, the people.
With further runs, the voice work will become more refined. Occasionally things felt a little too unhinged in terms of movement. It can feel like overloaded rap, where we can’t digest it all at once.
But there’s more than enough here already for a highly entertaining, informative and uncomfortable (for all the right reasons) encounter with Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Get your questions ready for this Prime Minister and U.S President in-waiting. And, if you go, you’ll realise you got three things for the price of one. Two excellent character portrayals live on stage, and a masterclass in improvised genius from a third man-in-blonde – Jack Klaff himself.