boris tempted

The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson

Malvern Theatres


How to defuse the increasingly angry political dialogue in the nation in recent months? Maybe humour is the key. For generations political satire has been a great release for the people in free societies, especially democracies, and rather than inflame the tensions, perhaps it can have a positive effect in enabling our society to heal and overcome our divisions.

The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson is necessarily an exaggeration in the way that cartoons distort and exaggerate to create entertainment. It is cleverly written with sharp, witty exchanges and sound bites, and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the show from the moment it began.

The first half of the show explores the past. The dinner party that sealed Boris Johnson’s decision to lead the ‘Leave‘ side of our national debate is presented as the crucial moment which influenced the outcome of the referendum.

The second act is largely focussed on a future chapter: it imagines how the break with the European Union turns out negatively, Boris only lasted a few months as Prime Minister but ten years later is looking to bid for power once again.

The second half presents a more cutting criticism of the decision to leave, and of Boris’ character. The nature of the play is rather like a school house supper sketch that ‘takes the mick’ out of the staff.

At the heart of the show is a brilliant performance by Will Barton as Boris. He has an excellent voice for the role, and he manages the gestures and mannerisms of Boris with subtle skill: he resembles Boris very well with understated exaggeration and outstanding comic effect.

Around Boris, the other players play several roles each. Emma Davies is a very convincing Margaret Thatcher; the differentiation of her roles is helped by her different wigs and costumes.

Bill Champion is an excellent Michael Gove. Tim Walters achieves distinctive characterisations for  Huw Edwards, Tony Blair and Evgeny Lebedev. Claire Lichie completes a talented team.

Lighting is very well designed and used, especially to switch between the moments of ‘reality’ and the moments when in his head, he is hearing the voices of past leaders like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. It also contributed to the hilarious but ironic denouement at the end of the evening.

Impersonations have long been a vital means of both good-humoured entertainment and trenchant criticism. The Malvern audience loved this production which reflects our cynical view of politicians and which incisively exposes the character weaknesses and errors of some of our current leaders. This show will particularly delight people of a Remain inclination but everybody clearly had a great laugh. It is a healthy thing that an audience with a mixture, no doubt, of political opinions is able to sit and laugh together in this manner. To 25-01-20

Timothy Crow


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