For some unknown reason, Michael Moore created a one-man show on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre in which he yells about President Trump for a long time. Although this is certainly a worthy cause and everyone should be yelling about Trump, the venue seems rather odd, as does the genre, the audience, and the price point. After all, what is “Terms of My Surrender”? A “Broadway show” or a political protest? If it’s the later, why do audiences have to pay for it? Protests are supposed to be accessible, free, and public. In no other circumstance would a political protest have assigned seating with price tiers according to proximity to the speaker.
But here, no one seems to mind–which represents part of the problem. The entire audience for Michael Moore’s show is older wealthy white people from the city and the surrounding tristate area. This is the case for every show on Broadway, but this isn’t another charming musical revival or a hip new play, this is a piece of political activism being performed to an audience than is most likely not politically active. For most of the audience, the last protest they went to was probably about the Vietnam War. Thus, paying for an expensive seat to hear about politics on a Broadway stage seems fine for them. Most in the audience would probably claim it is a more civilized form of protest compared to loud yelling in the streets with signs.
However, “The Terms of My Surrender” is a failure; it is a completely ineffective form of political protest than in its very nature only supports elitism. How can a Broadway theater full of rich old white people who paid money to see one rich old white man speak compare to Trans rallys in Times Square or Anti-Confederate/Anti-Nazi protests in Charlottesville? The answer is easy: it can’t. Michael Moore’s show is ineffective, inaccessible, and out of touch. It is preaching to its own choir. Yes, the audience probably learns a lot from seeing the show, but at the end of the day it is a crowd of Trump haters who paid a lot of money to hear someone bash Trump for a few hours, so what?
The show is an almost intolerable 2 hours and 45 minutes (or at least it was when I saw it). The show changes sporadically, with Moore discussing whatever irrelevant anecdotes he wants and having random guests come onstage and talk about whatever they want. The unfixed nature of the show is not “exciting” or “experimental” or even “improvisational”–all words I would use to describe theater that changes each night–it is instead unprofessional, unfocused, and ineffective.
At the end of the show, Moore encourages everyone to make calls, to go to protests, to write letters, to fun for the office. Will any of the audience members do so? Probably not. They will go home and feel have their preconceived anti-Trump feelings validated. They will feel righteous for attending such a show. They will feel engaged with politics–which is so far from the truth. Seeing “The Terms of My Surrender” does not count as being politically engaged; it does not count as going to a protest; it does not help to make a difference in the world; it does nothing to stop Trump’s reign of terror.