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IvankaPlay review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘cartoonish and lacking in insight’

McLean Peterson in IvankaPlay at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Paulo Salud McLean Peterson in IvankaPlay at Underbelly, Edinburgh. Photo: Paulo Salud

Imagine if Ivanka Trump had a heart! Suspend your disbelief. This is the fictional speculation that playwright Charles Gershman engages in for IvankaPlay.

If she was capable of a modicum of empathy, he thinks maybe she would challenge her father on the current policy of separating children from their parents at the US border.

While she is an easy target for satire as a latter-day “let them eat cake” gal, this play teeters between skewering her and “revealing” a real person underneath.

Alas, neither the humour nor the political criticism digs in. It’s all routine – snide japes over her shallowness, vanity, strange robot husband and creepy relationship with dad.

While she is shocked by her diminished power with her father not much sympathy can be rung from that sting. By emphasising her plastic facade and underdeveloped sense of reality, this late-begotten “humanity” rests uneasily.

Actor McLean Peterson nevertheless wears Trump’s iciness and detachment well. She executes haughty tantrums and a perfectly puzzled scowl at the seemingly unfamiliar/distasteful concept of a “news programme”.

The tone overall is cartoonish emphasised by the on-the-nose soundscape (whip cracks when talking about dominating, laser zaps when talking about laser focus) adding little to the discourse.

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Exaggerated imagining of Ivanka Trump that offers minimal insight