Tweetstorm ensues after Trump pans Michael Moore's play

Last Saturday, United States President Donald Trump criticised The Terms Of My Surrender by Michael Moore (above).
Last Saturday, United States President Donald Trump criticised The Terms Of My Surrender by Michael Moore (above).PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Like many of United States President Donald Trump's tweets, the one lashing out at film-maker Michael Moore seemed to come out of nowhere.

"While not at all presidential..." it began, before taking aim at Moore's Broadway play, The Terms Of My Surrender, which had ended its run the weekend before.

"I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB and was forced to close. Sad!" Mr Trump tweeted.

It is unclear what prompted Mr Trump to send such a tweet on the cusp of last Saturday evening - though, like Moore himself, The Terms Of My Surrender did not hold back on its criticisms of Mr Trump and his presidency.

Officially, the play was billed as "a hilarious satirical tour through the depraved new world we find ourselves in since appointing a madman as the leader of the free world".

Promotional posters for the one-man show, which featured a rotating band of guests, trumpeted: "Can a Broadway show bring down a sitting President?"

The New Yorker's Michael Schulman described the play as "a cheeky rebuke to the Trump Administration that plays mostly as a liberal pep rally".

A few hours after Mr Trump's tweet, Moore responded on Twitter to dispute claims that the show had bombed or closed early.

The Terms Of My Surrender began previews at Belasco Theatre in New York on July 28 and officially opened on Aug 10. It was always scheduled for a 12-week engagement; its final performance was on Oct 22.

Moore said as much last Saturday, reiterating that the limited run was because of his commitments to other television and movie projects.

"On Broadway, Donald, they call it a 'LIMITED ENGAGEMENT' - just like we're planning on making your presidency," Moore fired back at Mr Trump in one of a dozen threaded tweets.

He also posted an undated photo of himself with Mr Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Mr Jared Kushner, claiming he still had "one fan in the White House".

In addition, Moore claimed The Terms Of My Surrender was the highest-grossing, non-musical play of the summer, "despite my offering $29 cheap seats + free student tix so ALL could afford".

According to the Broadway League statistics, the show grossed US$4.2 million (S$5.7 million), just under half of its potential gross, with an average capacity of 78 per cent.

Playbill magazine confirmed that it was the highest-grossing, non-musical plays among those that had opened this summer, though another one that had opened earlier (The Play That Goes Wrong) grossed more in the 12-week period in which Moore's play ran.

The Washington Post's theatre critic, Peter Marks, gave The Terms Of My Surrender a lacklustre review, calling it "a slog through cringe-inducing skits and only occasionally engaging anecdotes about Moore's stumble into the life of a political gadfly".

Earlier last week, Moore had announced that he planned to take The Terms Of My Surrender on a national tour next year.

He also accused Mr Trump of trying to distract attention from more-pressing issues, such as the situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Most Broadway shows fail financially, as Mr Trump well knows: His one venture as a producer, of the play Paris Is Out in 1970, was a flop.

The Terms Of My Surrender is the second show he has tangled with since last year's election.

Last November, after the cast of Hamilton challenged Vice-President-elect Mike Pence from the stage, Mr Trump criticised that show, saying he had heard it was "highly overrated".

During the run of The Terms Of My Surrender, Moore claimed to have set aside a box nightly for Mr Trump.

The Twitter spat last Saturday marked the President's first engagement with the show.

WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2017, with the headline 'Tweetstorm ensues after Trump pans Michael Moore's play'. Print Edition | Subscribe