Politics has been a gold mine for writers in recent years. American TV shows and movies all have caricature trump cameos and sometimes entire seasons were boosted by the 2016 elections.
Here in Britain it seems that half of the new large pieces produced relate to current politics. Brexit analogies make their way into all forms of media. At this point we have seen all the stories and heard all the jokes about the politicians. And yet we continue to be drawn to these stories.
The title, Boris Johnson's last temptation, instantly attracted me. The new play was written by Jonathan Maitland and played Will Barton as the eponymous character. Based on the name alone, I was interested in seeing the play, despite having seen many disasters qualified as political satire. The result? Meh.
The first act mainly followed the famous dinner of 2016 during which Boris and Michael Gove discussed their position on Brexit. This led to the events of last summer, when the dreaded man was declared Prime Minister. The second act started the action ten years later. Boris was now planning to return to the EU to secure himself the place of Prime Minister a second time.
There were certainly some imaginative elements in the show; Boris has been visited by spiritual versions of Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and, curiously, Tony Blair. The impressions of these famous people were perfect, as was Bartons depicting Johnson. It had really been made to watch the play too, with an imitation of the blonde crop of politicians.
We always had the impression that there was potential just below the surface, waiting to be exploited, but it never was exploited. Although it is set at nine years in the future, little has happened in the second half until the last ten minutes.
A discussion in the first semester between Johnsons' ex-wife, Marina Wheeler (Claire Lichie) and Sarah Vine (Emma Davies) on her infidelity suggested a promising new perspective. However, this was never pushed further, and Wheeler was cast aside in the second act. Instead, we were given Lichie as Johnsons' new girlfriend with a ridiculous, nasal American accent, reminiscent of Janice of Friends, as she also discovered her stuff.
I was annoyed by a statement in the Maitland program that the play did not take sides. What's the point of writing a play about Boris Johnson if you're not going to take a stand on him? Again, I do not agree with this statement as Johnson was portrayed in a negative light. He has sometimes made racist and misogynistic comments and has been described as perverted serial adultery. I guess they were just presenting the impartial facts.
Again, the room was certainly filled with moments of laughter. My favorite was in 2029 when it was announced that the BBC is now owned by Amazon. With the state of the industry right now, this is not an incredible possibility.
Likewise, I never got bored or lost my focus, but then again, the room didn't do anything special to get me started either. The action was rather static and no new notable ideas regarding the political climate were proposed.
Overall, it was a perfectly acceptable play, but in a world saturated with political commentary, perfectly acceptable does not stand out. It sounded like a tale I've heard hundreds of times since 2016. All we can do is hope that Johnsons' time as Prime Minister is as short as Maitland predicts.
Boris Johnson's last temptation play at the Lowry until 7e Of March.
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