We do not live in a time of subtlety. If you need evidence, take a look at the news. Shaded, nuanced criticism of
PresidentDonald Trump would sound like a whisper next to a tornado. It was refreshing, then, to see a play that dispenses with elegant critique of the president in favor of a gloves-off battery. Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal combats Trump’s logorrhea of vulgarities with its own. Trump is never actually named in the script, but the title alone tells you who it’s about, and the text gives plenty of indications. It is replete with scatological jokes; the story tells of a society that makes a Faustian pact to choose a king who will supposedly better their lives, but then shits on all of his subjects. Having made this deal, the citizens are forced not only to live under the shitty reign (and rain) of this despot, but also to pretend they love it, even as the king ends the world in nuclear war. To describe this play as a scathing satire of Trump would be putting it mildly.
In addition to adopting the rhetorical position of Biblical prophecy, it also plays with Biblical material in clever ways. Jesus’s lines from the Gospels are articulated as ironically inverted versions that resemble Trump’s likely misinterpretations of them, such as: “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall save it, and whosoever shall lose his life is a loser and deserves it.”
The piece is not subtle, and that’s probably fitting. When the president of the United States of America has condoned sexual assault, has publicly said that he would date his own daughter were they not related, has boasted about the size of his penis during a debate, and has both said and tweet-spewed other horrors too numerous to name here (I won’t even go into policy), comparing him to Caligula and Nero doesn’t seem so far-fetched. A play like this would have been too heavy-handed if it were directed at any other recent president, but these days, the rules of public discourse seem to have been thrown out. Now is not the time for art to play nice.
Performances of Faust 3: The Turd Coming, or The Fart of the Deal continue through June 26 at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, Greenwich Village, Manhattan).