We are in different times right now, with Brexit looming large over the UK, the U.S. has it much worse with Donald J. Trump as the President. And what he says and does has implications, bad ones, not just for the U.S but also for its neighbours south of the border. ‘Building the Wall,’ a new play that has just opened up at the Park Theatre, tells a fictional account of what could happen if Trump’s followers heed his hate and take matters into their own hands.
‘Building the Wall’ takes its cues from Trump’s pure dislike of immigrants, particularly Mexican ones, and takes place in the future, Nov. 22, 2019, to be precise, when something horrible has been done. I won’t give away the details, but needless to say, the heinous, horrible crime that was committed is purely from the spew that comes out of Trump’s mouth. The setting takes places in a glass-enclosed jail, the El Paso County Jail to be precise, and in this jail is a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit who looks like he could be the devil’s grandson. His name is Rick (played menacingly by Trevor White), a white Anglo man who matches exactly Trumps demographic. In the room is a table and two chairs, a water cooler, and Rick’s slippers on the floor next to the chair. It’s 2:40 pm and in walks Gloria (Angela Griffin), an interrogator trying to get to the bottom of why Rick did what he did. So for the next 90 minutes, Gloria extracts from Rick his life story, and the moments that led up to the crime he, along with his superiors, committed. It’s a crime that, if Trump continues his threats of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and detaining Mexican immigrants (along with other illegals) in the U.S., could actually happen. But Rick says that he was just following orders, orders that, no matter how ridiculous and awful they might be, were the result of a crime that would surely, in the real world, change the course of U.S. history.
In order to keep up the intensity of the script, the acting has to be flawless, and White pulls it off. With his salt and pepper hair combed over his forehead, the angry look on his face, and the tension in his voice, White keeps us mesmerized all the way through. Griffin, less effective as the questioner, can’t really hold her own against White – she’s at times a bit too soft and less vocal. The set is another character in the show – it’s minimalistic yet in your face, while the noise of other prisoners stir in the background making it feel like an actual jail. ‘Building the Wall’, written by Robert Schenkkan, is scarily too timely for its own good. It’s a work of fiction but the way Trump is continuing his rhetoric if could become fact.