New York | 1h 20m | Already closed

The Trial of an American President

From 10 critic and 29 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting

About the show

Shelter Entertainment and Hello Larry present a dramatic mock trial of former U.S. President George W. Bush for war crimes—and audience members get to decide if he's guilty! More…

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, spawned the growth of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and inspired the use of brutal torture? Or will he leave a free man? 'The Trial of an American President' takes you inside a heated courtroom, where George W. Bush defends himself as a jury selected from the audience determines his fate.

Theater Pizzazz

"A most interesting theatrical experiment...There is splendid use of technology, with voiceovers and videos...The play, by Dick Tarlow and Bill Smith, is so well crafted that arguments ensued after the last curtain call and the house lights were on. Heated exchanges among audience members, between husbands and wives, continued from the theater to the lobby, the elevator and the ladies’ room. The excellent direction is by Stephen Eich." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Tony Carlin plays an earnest former President who is convinced of his righteousness but not arrogant or prideful...The play is documentary in style, grounded in historical evidence, legal argument, and reference to international treaties and conventions...Although the verdict, left up to the audience, is pretty much a foregone conclusion, it is the detail that is finally so impressive...Some might say 'Trial of an American President' is a beautifully dramatized trial and not theater at all." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"For the many who believe that Bush not only began an unjustified war in the wake of 9/11 but incited problems that have become exponentially worse with the rise of ISIS, among other cancers, seeing him as an ICC dartboard target will likely be a mild cathartic, no matter how rigged against him the playwriting may be...If you weren’t paying attention back then, consider this play a valuable history lesson. If you were, you won’t hear anything you didn’t already know." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"This show is timely and perfect for the political junkies out there...Mr. Carlin is a believable Bush, complete with accent and deer-in-headlights look. Mr. Rogers is authoritative and demanding, and drives home the point. Ms. Kakkar is perfect as the Narrator, whose soothing voice adds just the facts in a no-nonsense tone. They are all perfectly cast...Stephen Eich’s direction drives the point home, though at times it becomes monotonous." Full Review


“Trial is stacked against Bush from the get-go. The director, the author and probably the actor seem to have decided to make Bush full of twitches, nervous eye movements and religious fervor. Had Bush been portrayed as a stronger man who truly believed in what he did, the play might have had a dramatic spine. The very fact that after being convicted by a jury of audience members, Bush’s last word is a tearful outcry—’Laura’—serves to induce not empathy, but pity.” Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

"An earnest, informative and flawed mock trial...It behooves the authors to have been more diligent in the presentation of their research. This is especially true if they are going to ask the audience to make a judgment based on it....A more trustworthy presentation would have been much preferred to the clunky efforts of the production to suggest the trappings of the court, such as portentous echoing sounds and some tin-ear exposition by 'the narrator.'" Full Review


"It's a rather sleepy exercise in self-righteous indignation masquerading as an honest examination of one of America's greatest blunders...With a script so heavily weighted against Bush and an audience predisposed to abhor him, there is never any doubt that Bush will be convicted by a wide margin...The entire 75-minute affair is more a liberal revenge fantasy than a genuinely gripping courtroom drama...Stephen Eich directs a technically proficient production that occasionally verges on camp." Full Review


"Despite all its good intentions, it's not a very good play...Carlin does his best to make us buy into the Bush persona. Unfortunately his best isn't convincing enough to buy into the conceit of the set-up...'The Trial of an American President' warrants a flunking grade...Unless the Bush and Cheney families decide to attend a performance, it's a pretty sure bet that Bush's fate will be the same for most of the play's run...Enlisting the audience to serve as jurors is ineffective and gimmicky." Full Review

Front Row Center

"To be sure Mr. Carlin has perfected a serious vocal imitation of GWB, and if you close your eyes, which you will be tempted to do, the effect is chilling...This is a court that bears no resemblance to a court. A trial that doesn’t sound like a trial. A narrator that has no reason to be there except for exposition–and too much of that will smother a story. The result is a mash-up of good intentions, fact, and no drama...Good intentions and no structure do not a successful combination make." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"If you're expecting that the point of staging this mock trial is to provide fresh insights into the disasters of the Bush Administration, you've come to the wrong place...That Tony Carlin isn't very effective as Bush is hardly his fault...Tarlow is unwilling to allow for the ambiguity or clash of ideas that might create real drama...The only thing that keeps Stephen Eich's production watchable is its slick design...Even a really terrible president deserves a better play than this." Full Review

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if Provocative ,absorbing ,involving theater. It made me think. Very well done. And it's a great question 'what if'?

Don't see it if If you don't want to think about history in those years

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a different viewpoint of a well know personality.

Don't see it if You don't like politics or you don't want to get another person's view of known facts.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Intelligent

See it if Really well written and timely thesis that makes you think. 80 minutes flew by.

Don't see it if Everyone should see this

Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You like recent Political Subjects

Don't see it if If you are not interested in Politics

Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Ambitious, Unique

See it if you'd like to see George W. Bush on trial for war crimes with a jury of audience members declaring a verdict. 8-1 guilty the night I went.

Don't see it if you can't stand the thought of an actor playing "W' trying to defend himself before the world court, along with videos of significant events

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if Great acting interesting concept with Bush defending himself although when I went the verdict was guilty.

Don't see it if If you don't want to get upset with the war and even what is going on in today's political scene,

Clever, Relevant, Interesting, Thought-provoking, Original

See it if You are interested in politics. It's an interesting concept and it's well acted, points for cleverness.

Don't see it if Politics don't interest you, you aren't interested in a "what if?" scenario, or don't want to think about 9/11 and the events that followed

Interesting, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Great writing

See it if you can suspend disbelief on how he gets to the trial and concentrate on what happens there. Well done effort to display both sides.

Don't see it if you can't get past the initial premise.

Also Carlin is outstanding in speech and mannerisms but doesn't convey the ... Read more Read less

Original, Interesting, Thought-provoking

See it if you do not agree with the war in Iran and need a catharsis or you enjoy hypothetical political situations based on true events.

Don't see it if you are a fan of George W Bush (I felt it was mostly one-sided) or if the subjects of politics and war do not interest you.

Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if You like history and politics. You are interested in the Bush years.

Don't see it if You like fast paced plays. You don't like politics.

Great acting, Disappointing, Relevant, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if Good premise Excellent visuals

Don't see it if Could have been better

Clever, Ambitious, Relevant, Intense, Slow

See it if you're a political junkie who is well-versed in the Bush years, you like audience participation, you like talky shows

Don't see it if you aren't interested in politics, you need something zippy with a lot of plot, you can't handle discussion of war crimes

Ambitious, Dizzying, Slow, Relevant, Cliched

See it if are interested in play about geo bush presidency and what would happen if he was put on trial years after gulf war

Don't see it if not a fan of political drama or interested in george bush

Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want a biased and simplistic presentation of complex historical events. Would have been a great idea if a compelling debate was written

Don't see it if you are irritated by biased and simplistic presentation of historical events and characters. there is no argument made for or by Bush. Bore

Ambitious, Excruciating, Disappointing

See it if you like small shows and politics.

Don't see it if you are bored easily.

Banal, Cliched, Disappointing

See it if You think that you a re going to see American history life!

Don't see it if You want to safe your money

Absorbing, Thought-provoking

See it if You interested in being part of a tribunal to condemn the Bush/Chaney administration for war crimes....quite engaging

Don't see it if You believe that Bush/Chaney are innocent and/or you do not like political plays

Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are interested in history and hearing why a president may have made certain decisions and the impact a vice president actually has

Don't see it if you dont like politics

Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want an entertaining discussion after the show.

Don't see it if Could spend your money better elsewhere

During previews
Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Riveting, Resonant

See it if You enjoy theatre based on historical events. You enjoy theatre that centers around politics and policy. I found this play riveting.

Don't see it if You are looking for a satire of the Bush Presidency. Listening to a recital of the Bush Era war crimes in a courtroom setting would disturb.

Also I think this is a brilliant and important new play. The playwright use... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if So interesting and true story. The multimedia was great and the performances were spot one . It was fun be party of the show as well.

Don't see it if If your a hard fast republican

During previews
Absorbing and riveting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Intelligent, Excellent performances from all three actors.

See it if You had strong opinions about the Bush presidency but are open to having your ideas challenged. It's a masterful drama that makes you think.

Don't see it if You would be bored watching a "mock" trial, don't want to consider another POV, can't face the horrors of the Iraq war, intense imagery.

Also This was a POWERFUL piece of theater. I was utterly surprised to find ... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Intimate, Interactive

See it if you like plays based in recent history & current events. If you like shows with a courtroom feel. 9 Members of the audience acts as jury.

Don't see it if you were a Bush supporter or staunch republican. The writer is a bit skewed toward guilt. Tony Carlin does a passable Bush impersonation.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Original, Thought-provoking

See it if you are open to reviewing and re-evaluating some very troubling activities related to war.

Don't see it if on days when you are totally fed up with politicians and deceit

Also This was a powerful show. They presented facts and feelings with all t... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Educational, Great acting, Relevant

See it if You are interested in circumstances regarding the Iraq war, or in a generally well-acted but rather simplistic analysis of political events.

Don't see it if you feel uncomfortable questioning the decisions of George W. Bush, or if you dislike plays about politics or war.

Cast & Creatives (11)