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The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson
January 22nd - January 25th
The fastest moving story of our time…
The smash hit play that sold out its London run comes to Malvern as part of a U.K. tour
It was the dinner that changed history: the night in February 2016 when Boris Johnson decided to vote ‘leave’ and a nation’s future was sealed. Guests included the spirits of Prime Ministers past including Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Tony Blair as well as fellow MP Michael Gove, the journalist Sarah Vine, Marina Wheeler and Evgeny Lebedev.
Fast forward to post-Brexit Britain, 2029. For reasons that may be fact and/or fiction at the time of the performance, Boris, no longer in power, roams the political wilderness. Unexpected events see him back in the spotlight and with a chance to “make Britain great again”. This play addresses the big questions: What will Britain look like in ten years’ time? Is chlorinated chicken really bad for you? Who does the NHS belong to and what IS going on inside the head of the most divisive and controversial politician of our time?
As befits the fastest moving story of our time, the script will be updated – nightly if necessary – to reflect events….
Written by Jonathan Maitland (author of the hit plays Dead Sheep and An Audience With Jimmy Savile), this uniquely timely comedy drama broke box office records during its run at London’s Park Theatre.
Age guidance: 12+ (Contains some strong language)
Running time: approx. 1 hour 55 minutes, including interval.
★★★★ “Politics Served Deliciously Pink” Times
★★★★ “brilliant Dead Ringer quality impersonations…delicious spoofs throughout” Daily Mail
★★★★★ “A remarkable piece of theatre” New European
★★★★★ “Achingly funny and perceptive black comedy” West End Wilma
Production Photographs by Pamela Raith
Choice Radio Worcester
It was oddly fitting that on a murky Thursday afternoon when you couldn't see the Malvern Hills even though you were standing right in front of them, on stage, there was a depiction of the equally murky goings-on that surround political life and, more specifically, the politicians who ultimately decide how are lives will be run. For this week, it is truly The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson by Jonathan Maitland.
On stage walks a well-dressed, well coiffured, blond-haired man. This can't be who we think it is... But wait - whilst waiting for an interview with Huw Edwards, he is given a make-up mirror. And by roughing up that blond hair, pulling his shirt out of his trousers and loosening his tie, there he is. Boris Johnson, the man we all know and, er... love.
Will Barton is brilliant in his depiction of Boris, spot on in bringing out all his idiosyncrasies, a bumbling, shouty, Latin-talking womanising MP. MP because the first half of this play takes place between 2016 & 2019, so in essence is factually-based ("based on real events but using imagined dialogue and dramatic licence" according to the programme). But things have certainly changed since the show was first performed leading to a regularly updated script and references to current events as well as to the location. Boris mentions the people who live in Malvern - "That beautiful Spa town. Home of... water!", said in his usual make-it-up-as-you-go-along style.
Starting with a dinner with the Goves and Evgeny Lebedev, where Boris is in a permanent state of prevarication regarding Brexit, his decision is influenced by the appearance of other prominent figures, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, who pop in and out to give their views on the matter. Ultimately the decision was made, at least by the third attempt (no doubt the script will be updated yet again next month...)
Repositioning in the second half to 10 years in the future and things are somewhat different. Boris lasted a mere two and a half years and the hoped-for post-Brexit golden age seems to have dimmed somewhat. All of which leads to the enticing possibility of re-entering the EU, or Brentry as Boris calls it. At the same time, Harry and Megan have just announced the birth of their 7th child, called Winnipeg...
With Alexa as his therapist, Boris has to decide whether re-enter politics or to continue writing more and more volumes about Churchill, having already struck a deal worth £9m. And can he really stay faithful to his current love?
Throughout the show, the cast of Barton plus Bill Champion, Emma Davies, Claire Lichie and Tim Wallers expertly portray the various characters involved in the seemingly permanent debacle that is life in politics and the script is very, very funny (regardless of your particular political persuasion), and leads to a very unexpected and decidedly risky climax (no spoilers here!).
Whether 2029 will actually bring us those events remains to be seen, of course - in the meantime everyone can enjoy a sharply-written and thoroughly entertaining comedy of what (possibly) was and what might be…
Trelawney of the Wells
If you are expecting razor-sharp wit, subtle satire or intelligent political debate, this is not the show for you. Arguably the title character is so much larger than life that he is actually beyond parody. So this may be the reason the humour is so broad, and laid on with a shovel rather than a pallet knife. But once you buy into its style, it's actually very funny.
Will Barton as BoJo was excellent, as was Emma Davies as Mrs T, but some of the other impersonations left rather a lot to the imagination. Without giving too much away, the end features a familiar, but still memorable, 'coup de théâtre' that's well worth seeing.
Die-hard Borisophiles may be offended, but the rest of us should find much to enjoy here.