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Cerabino: To be or not to be for Trumped-up Shakespeare?


If you run a local playhouse, you may want to consider doing some Trumped-up Shakespeare.

It’s quite the rage. New York’s Public Theater just wrapped up a run of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in the city’s Central Park with the title character played by an actor with a mop of a hairpiece, an unusually long red tie, and his Calpurnia transformed into a wife with a Slovenian accent.

Naturally, a play that depicted the stabbing of a Trump-like emperor didn’t go unnoticed or uncriticized. Delta Air Lines and Bank of America withdrew their sponsorships. And the Public Theater, which accepted no public money for this performance, noted to its audience:

“Our production of Julius Caesar in no way advocates violence toward anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: Those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save.”

Nevertheless, many conservatives pointed out that if it had been a President Barack Obama-like Julius Caesar, the play would have never been staged. But they were wrong.

READ MORE FROM FRANK CERABINO

In 2012, an Obama version of “Julius Caesar” was staged by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, in a production that did get National Endowment of the Arts funding and also corporate sponsorship from Delta. And two years ago, a Rhode Island production of the play showed a pant-suited Hillary Clinton-Caesar getting stabbed to death.

Neither got much mention or complaint. But Trump is ratings gold. Even when it comes to Shakespeare.

So, you may want to get in on the act, and stage some Trumped-up Shakespeare for the upcoming season.

Here are six scripts for your consideration:

*

Title: Much Ado About Nothing to Do with Russia.

Plot summary: Benedick and Beatrice are made for each other. But their constant Tweeting gets in the way. Benedict’s true intentions are investigated by Don Robert Mueller, who must be fired to preserve a happy ending.

Notable line: “Speak low if you speak love. Speak lower if you speak with Sergey Kislyak.”

Capsule review: I laughed, I cried, I called it a witch hunt.

*

Title: As You Like It, and Buhlieve Me, You’re Going to Love It

Plot summary: Rosalind dresses like a man, calling herself Ganymede. Orlando talks to Ganymede, and professes his love for Rosalind, not knowing that Ganymede is actually Rosalind.

Marco Rubio tries not to get involved. In the end, everybody’s exhausted from all the winning.

Notable line: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, especially the coal miners in swing states.”

Capsule review: I laughed, I cried, I gave up on Paul Ryan.

*

Title: All’s Well That Ends in a Wall

Plot summary: Helena, the orphan daughter of a physician, is hopelessly in love with Count Bertram, who has been sent to France. Helena, whose residency status is problematic, is a dreamer who must scheme how to marry Bertram.

But he needs to mollify his base by insisting on strong borders. Helena, who is turned away, must use mistaken identity immigration papers to find true love.

Notable line: “Good without evil is like light without darkness which in turn is like television without Fox & Friends.”

Capsule review: I laughed, I cried, I applied for a H-2B work visa at Mar-a-Lago

*

Title: Merchant of Venice Golf Club

Plot summary: Over-leveraged merchant Antonio and his friend Bassanio need money, so they approach Vladimir Shylock for a loan. Which turns into a big mess, with Shylock demanding a pound of Antonio’s flesh.

Antonio raises the membership fees at his golf club.

Notable line: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven. Not that I said that. But if I did, there would be nothing wrong with it.”

Capsule review: I laughed, I cried, I researched the 25th Amendment.

*

Title: The Tweet Tempest

Plot summary: Prospero tells his daughter Miranda that he purposefully used Twitter to orchestrate the shipwreck that not only took down his crew, but also hurt the brand of Miranda’s line of China-manufactured women’s clothing.

Notable line: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with sleep. But by 4 a.m., we’re up, angry and ready to tweet again.”

Capsule review: I laughed, I cried, I wished they stopped calling it a “smart phone.”

*

Title: A Comey of Errors

Plot summary: Syracusan merchant Egeon tries to curry favor with Duke Comey in the Ephesus Department of Justice. When this backfires, and Egeon realizes he can’t get the Duke to forgive him, he calls Duke Comey “a nut job.”

Notable line: “When I desired him to come home to dinner, he asked me for a thousand marks in gold. And I may have a recording of it. I’ll let you know very soon, and you won’t like the answer.”

Capsule review: I laughed, I cried, I leaked.



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