Sheffield group's gentle satire on Tory 'politiclown' Boris

Review: Boris the Musical, Library Theatre

Sunday, 18th September 2016, 3:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:00 pm
David Raphael Burchhardt as Boris Johnson
David Raphael Burchhardt as Boris Johnson

This show looks at the life of Tory politician Boris Johnson, who the writer Laurence Peacock describes as a ‘politiclown’.

However, this is show is political satire ‘lite’, not a hard-hitting polemic but more a gentle dig at the Foreign Secretary’s spectacular and erratic rise to the top.

Young actor David Raphael Burchhardt is clearly having a ball in the title role and his impression is weirdly accurate. He regularly has the audience in stitches with his asides, commentating on his life being played out on stage.

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He even works the crowd queuing down the steps at the venue to get into the show and glad-hands the audience during the interval.

Really the whole show revolves around David’s clever, energetic performance with a great mix of self-deprecation and self-admiration that is well judged.

Like the real-life Boris, he manages somehow to entrance the audience with his bumbling charm.

We see the young Etonian come off worst with the more overtly pushy ‘call me Dave’ Cameron, have a brief nod to the antics of the rich hooligans of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford and romp through Parliamentary political intrigues featuring the smoothly assured Cameron and the desperately ambitious Michael Gove.

Cameron and Gove are played by women and Liz Kearney and Sarah Valletta both have great stage presence and good singing voices.

Neither is overwhelmed by Boris’s over-the-top presence and indeed their more restrained portrayals act as a foil to that. But occasionally it’s a bit hard to remember who’s playing who, particularly as both perform other minor roles as well with minor costume adjustments.

Hollie Morrell’s songs are excellent, taking on many genres of musical parody, from musical numbers like How Do You Solve a Problem Like Boris? Or Who Am I? to the fantastic Take That-style Born to Rule.

However, the show felt a little like a work in progress, more an Edinburgh revue in style than a fully-formed musical, but none the worse for that.

A hilarious evening from a talented cast, musicians and crew.