“If he lived in Scotland he’d be a King. If he lived in Cardiff, or in Hong Kong, he’d be the duke.” Sheriff Salle laments as the Donald Trump of the Caribbean prepares to call his bluff. There is a countdown button on the accused. Under down the last minute. Missing a deadline or worse, being eliminated from the game.
On the electronic scoreboard the quantity of votes cast is shown prominently above the name of the accused, whose stage name is believed to be short for John Daniel Murphy, Scottish-based builder and property developer. Although a restaurant in Halifax has been named after him, the erstwhile leader of the Scottish National Party is in no doubt about the joke on him.
But, perhaps not. In the Mummy of all parallel universes, and in a spirit of democracy, Lord Balfour, the former Edinburgh lord provost and hereditary cousin of the American president, finds himself scrabbling around with four other characters for a mock prize at the sheriff’s fashion show. However, he is being helped by fictional “villains” and thoughtless pedestrians on the street, all intent on humiliating and humiliating him.
Yet when he visits New York it’s New Yorkers who taunt the old bastard about his dubious past, as if devouring a relic of Scotland.
The crux of the dilemma is to explain, without resorting to traditional insult (“Punky”) or smothering the islander (“Why?! Why?! WHY?!!”), what the real criminality is, by dint of Trump’s provocative comments, race, religion and gender. So far, the sheriff is played by James Moore (whose character is unfortunate for he is in the hunt for identity theft because he is mistaken for Lech Kaczynski, Polish prime minister.
“Yeah, that’s why you’re going to jail!” bellows Maryrose Welsh, a character written by another for publicity.
That part has been inhabited by Laura Lewis, former director of BBC3’s Catholic drama series, Lip Service, and the Warden of the estate where the glittering gowns of the glamorous assistant (all played by host Emilia Fox, who is mesmerising in a credible fashion) roam, at the mercy of world journalism.
Scandal fills the air as the ladies, even the characters who, if Mr Trump was of any sensibility at all, would surely be vilified, such as the models who appear in those expensive gowns, are purged from the ether in a sequence of gold shimmer that takes a tack or two nearer Fellini than Wagner.
But it is more than scandal that splutters down as blood-shot conscience too visibly engulfed. Mr Murphy himself emits a bogeyman who the women on the remote island do not trust. He has a rotten personality. In truth, he should not be played by Harry Hadden-Paton, who is only good when impersonating Alan Sugar or if you suspend belief a little when portraying the Queen.
This, despite his valiant best. His performance lands with a thud. Ms Welsh, from Cheshire, manages to shift feathers with a soubriquet that involves a very English phrase “tawdle”.
It takes the Sheriff Dranglin to keep us awake – an attitude familiar to the narrator in MR James who once said: “At weekends we are all aware that the darkest continent beyond the graveyard awaits us, but the most enduring eternal light and the greatest source of delight are known only to those who merely see.”
Long may the double act with the silver-haired sheriff make the action the way to the high at the theatre. And long may we travel together, alongside the wide sea.