Audiences Get to Convict or Acquit George W. Bush in New Interactive Play ‘The Trial of an American President’

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By Tom Teodorczuk | 1:22 pm, August 29, 2016

George W. Bush is keeping a relatively low profile this election season. He supported his brother Jeb Bush’s doomed presidential bid and has been helping out Todd Young, John McCain and Rob Portman in their Senate campaigns.

But with peculiar timing, he is about to find himself in the dock— in a new play entitled The Trial of an American President, written by playwright Dick Tarlow. Each night an actor playing former President Bush will be put on trial for his foreign policy in the Middle East. Eight audience members will be chosen as the jury to rule on his fate, when the off-Broadway play starts its run, on September 17 at The Lion Theatre.

Bush will be played by Tony Carlin, who has had supporting roles in Star Trek: Voyager  and The Blacklist and who coincidentally acted off-Broadway a decade ago in David Hare’s play Stuff Happens, which also excoriated Bush. (In that production, though, Carlin played an aide to Tony Blair and not the President.)

The show’s website rather ambitiously states: “Witness the unprecedented event. For the first time in history, an American president is on trial for crimes against the world. Will our 43rd president be found guilty of launching an illegal war that caused civilian deaths and spawned the growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS and the use of brutal torture, or will he leave a free man? You decide.”

Actually, it’s not that unprecedented. Recent on-stage ‘trialists’ have included Jane Fonda and Martin Luther.

Tarlow said in the press statement: “I feel strongly that it is time for President George W. Bush’s actions to be properly examined. I was inspired to write this play out of concern for my children and grandchildren in the current world sociopolitical climate, which I feel can be linked to the actions of the Bush presidency.”

Doesn’t sound like there will be sequels putting Hillary Clinton and President Obama on trial for their flawed Middle East track records.

And with New York theater audiences not exactly renowned for being right-of-center, it’s not too much of a stretch to think Bush will be found guilty every night until the show finishes its limited run on October 15.