Boris The Musical was reviewed at the Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester. The show tours from June to August.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
Writer Laurence Peacock and director Kyle Williams tell us they formed Sheffield-based Blowfish Theatre after ‘getting miffed’ at Boris Johnson following the EU referendum. Their cathartic reaction to the result was to write Boris The Musical, a satirical, revue-style piece that lampoons the major players in the UK’s journey toward Brexit.
This was the second of two Brexit themed works that this reviewer saw in the space of a week. The first was a well meaning and potentially serious verbatim play from the National Theatre, which missed its target by trying to be too humourous.
Where Boris The Musical wins on just about every count is in the fact that it sets out in the best satirical traditions of That Was the Week That Was and The Frost Report. Whilst it has some painful messages to deliver, it does so with unapologetic irreverence.
David Burchhardt, in an almost glow in the dark blond wig, galumphs about the auditorium before the performance begins in the frightening semblance of BoJo, gleefully introducing himself to the audience.
Joined onstage by a small band, the show begins with the opening number ‘Please, Call me Boris’, where we get a feel for the style of the work, which is a mixture of pastiche and re-writes of well-worn tunes.
Highlights have to be ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Boris’ and a number in which Boris realises he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
Burchhardt is accompanied by Liz Kearney and Polly Bycroft-Brown, who play almost all the remaining roles, including the likes of David Cameron, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and, later, Theresa May. When Boris points out that he never intended to win, May reminds him that she voted remain, “And look at me now”
Running at just over an hour, the show keeps up its pace and doesn’t make the mistake of over-stretching itself into a two-acter.
In a way this is material that will quickly lose its currency, as the country presses forward through one election after another, so catch it before the subject matter becomes yesterday’s news.