a Vote For Laughter ‘ “MEIN TRUMP”



DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSON [email protected]

Awkward Silence Jax (ASJ) a comedy troupe based in Jacksonville, Florida, presented a two-performance show at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre on September 25, 26, 2015.

The Dual Critics reviewed the troupe’s initial stage appearance last year, in November, 2014, at Players by the Sea. After that successful and very funny production, they applied to the Orlando Fringe Festival and were awarded a performance spot. Their appearance was well received, they learned a lot about preparation and promotion, and hope to return this year, so they can bring share their talents with a wider audience.

As you can guess by the title, “Mein Trump” refers to Donald Trump, one of several contenders for the upcoming Republican Presidential nomination, who knows how to get into the news. Despite his bigger-than-life faults, many potential voters view him as oddly likable and a strangely sympathetic figure.

Of the eighteen skits that ASJ his troupe performed, only a few were concerned with The Donald. This was a good thing: we doubt even the most devoted fan could take ninety minutes of “Trumpisms.”

The show opened with one of the best skits of the evening. “Presidential Auditions” suggested that the process for choosing a president should be replaced with one based on the process of auditioning for a community theatre play. Some of the would-be candidates were Jason Collins as Jeb Bush, T. R. HainlineT.R. Hainline as Putin, Leslie Richart as Hillary Clinton, and complete with the famous hairdo, Gary Baker, as who else, Donald Trump. The group plucked an additional potential out of the audience to audition, and Stanton High School student Andy Ratliff was selected as President.

Everyone and everything is always fair game in ASJ shows, and this one had several segments with everyday characters and situations; one was “Like A Good Neighbor,” featuring David Girard, dressed in a red shirt as the friendly on-the-spot insurance man, remarkably unhelpful when called upon during an outrageous life-threatening crisis.

Lots of creatively was on display also, as four actors portrayed “Escaped Socks,” and discussed the troubles experienced by socks of four different brands (Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, Polo, Nike, and Hanes). They wore differentiating headgear so we would know which sock was which.

Advisory: As noted in the preshow publicity and on the front of the program, the production was for mature audiences and some of the material was a bit blue. Nonetheless, it was funny and kept the audience in stitches.

ASJ works without sets, and some chairs and a table were the only furniture. They do use various interesting props and costuming to enhance the experience.

This group was started by Gary Baker, a JU graduate who studied improv at Chicago’s Second City. The local cast of this production also included Kat McLeod, Katie McCloskey, and Abigal Saenz. In talking with Gary after the show, he says this group is available for play dates. Gary can be reached through Players by the Sea where he is Educational Director; additional information is available at on their Facebook and at www.awkwardsilencejax.com.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.