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Review of Boris The Musical at Waterloo East Theatre

Boris the Musical - Credit Heather Isobel
Boris the Musical – Credit Heather Isobel

Like him or loathe him, Boris Johnson is undeniably one of the characters of British politics and is therefore understandably a target for satire. His infamy has only increased since he backed the successful Brexit campaign, with the result being announced exactly one year before I saw the show. I assume this is why he was leaping around the foyer beforehand (I say he, I mean the actor playing Boris although sometimes you wouldn’t have noticed the difference) shouting “Happy Independence Day,” although the politically aware may notice it was Nigel Farage and not Boris who declared June 23rd Independence Day, and this act is directly contradictory to the rest of the show which suggests Boris is actually disappointed by Brexit.

I don’t want to nail my political colours to the mast here (otherwise 52% of you might stop reading) but I’m pretty sure the enjoyment of this show is probably highly dependent on your politics. As a Remainer (there, I said it), I quite enjoyed the vilifying of the Tory Brexiteers but even I got pretty fed up of the one-sided and frivolous nature of the show after a while. I am educated and sensible enough to know that there were many valid reasons for voting Brexit and I think the show did a real disservice to the people that made the decision for good reasons (whether or not Boris was one of them). It really became as one-dimensional as the man himself.

There were some truly hilarious moments. In the newly written General Election sequence, the Grime for Corbyn song had me doubled over with laughter. This section of the show was by far the strongest, I guess because satire only really works with current affairs so trying to get laughs out of pledges on buses and straight bananas when it’s already been and gone is pretty tough. As a result, the show really did improve as it went on, with the jokes becoming more current and creating more laughter towards the end rather than weaker amusement earlier on. The reliance on sexual puns was overwhelming and whilst I can’t deny the song Me and My Johnson did amuse me, a wider variety of material is needed.

The songs themselves were variable, some were pure genius, BeLeave (a gospel number sung by Michael Gove) and How Do You Solve A Problem Like Boris (lovingly ripped from The Sound of Music) were particular highlights and the two ladies playing Michael Gove and David Cameron (Liz Kearney and Polly Boycroft-Brown respectively) pulled these off with excellent voices and acting. To be honest, whenever they were on the stage I found myself looking anywhere but Boris whose songs were weaker and the portrayal of Boris by David Burchhardt as a stupid ‘mugwump’ was plain irritating at times. I’ve still not worked out if this was because he was so accurate in his portrayal or if he was completely wide of the mark. The real star of the show though was Laurence Peacock who appeared briefly as Jeremy Corbyn at the end.

The problem with this show is that political satire moves so quickly that many of the jokes just aren’t that funny any more. It’s all a bit fluffy and has even less substance than the man himself. That said, in places, it’s a good laugh and is probably saved by the fact that it gets progressively better towards the end so you go away feeling a lot lighter when you came in.

2 gold stars

Review by Emily Diver

In these upsetting times, it’s important to have something to laugh about. Hence, “Boris – The Musical”, the satirical tale of Britain’s finest politiclown.

Watch the rise, fall and (unfortunate) rise again of our new Foreign Secretary. Hear the (soon to be) smash hits, “I’m talking about Brexit”, “Posh Lads” and “BeLeave!” Be welcomed by Boris (and best friend Michael Gove) into the Church of Brexit.
Part biography, part farce, part songtastic satire, “Boris” is the 5* musical for people who don’t like musicals. We’ve got punk, we’ve got pop, we’ve got gospel. Hell, we’ve even got a sexy tango called “Me and My Johnson”.

As for Boris (played by our larger-than-life David Burchhardt), don’t be surprised if you get to meet him or at least touch his coat-tails in passing. After all, BoJo isn’t known to be shy.
So come along and laugh your socks off for an hour at the state of the world…before returning to your grim, unavoidable reality.
  (Recommended age 14+)

22 – 23 June 2017
Boris – the Musical


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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