The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson is the smash hit play that sold out its London run. It now comes to Northern Stage as part of a U.K. tour. Written before Boris became Prime Minister, this biting comedy gives a searing insight into the North London Elite. It puts the spotlight on their vaulting ambition and how they plot and plan to advance themselves within the system. Political power is the ultimate prize.
The first half of the play is scarily believable. At a dinner party in February 2016 with his influential friends Boris vacillates between leave and remain. Which option will give him the best chance of political success?
The real guests are leaver Micheal Gove and his journalist wife Sarah Vine, Boris’s then wife Marina Wheeler, and Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Evening Standard.
Other figures show up to try and influence Boris’s decision. The spirits of Prime Ministers past materialise. Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and Tony Blair put their cases for remain and leave. Margaret did join the EU but it was then only as a trading agreement, she now advocates leaving. Winston has his own point of view which seems to change along with Boris. Tony Blair is the arch globalist.
The first half ends when the results of the referendum are announced and both Boris and Gove are somewhat surprised by the result.
Fast forward to the future
Fast forward to post-Brexit Britain, 2029. Boris, is no longer in power, he only had a 23 month stint due to some incident with a lap dancer apparently. This did not ring true for me, as no one ever seems to care about Boris and his dalliances now, so they probably won’t then either. Micheal Gove has become a priest – another funny but not remotely feasible event.
Boris is writing yet another book about Churchill, but with the downfall of Dominic Raab as the current PM (the third unlikely scenario) events see him back in the spotlight and with a chance to “make Britain great again”.
Boris is fired up by the chance to make his comeback by campaigning on rejoining the EU! It is his chance to shine again!
The script is apparently updated to reflect events, I think the Coronavirus got a mention in there…
The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson – truth is stranger than fiction
Will Barton is formidable as Boris Johnson, he has got his mannerisms and voice down to a T. He looks very much like him too. Emma Davies is perfect as the formidable Margaret Thatcher. She becomes more and more disheveled as the play progresses. Tim Wallers gave us the biggest chuckles, as the emollient Tony Blair in search of global domination.
This is a very clever piece and well worth a watch, but I did think the second half was weaker. The satire less certain. Perhaps this was always going to be inevitable and goes to prove the point that truth is almost always stranger than fiction.