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Boris: World King

Published 22 April 2016

What’s it all about?

Boris: World King centres on the life and times of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Mayor of London – well, for the next couple of weeks, at least – recounted by the man himself.

Okay, so it’s not really Boris, but rather a cheekily satirical, affectionate and riotously gaffe-packed portrayal of writer Tom Crawshaw’s making. As our hero bumbles from flashpoint to flashpoint in a highlights reel spanning his ascent to the political pinnacle, we encounter school plays, alliterative bike schemes, malfunctioning Greek lectures, unfortunately-placed microphones, and one very harassed employee spinning it all under the carpet.

Loosely biographical, largely satirical, there’s some sharp political aspersions here to accompany the lighter laughs, as well as some hilarious speculation as to the driving force behind Boris’ success and where he could go from here.

Who’s in it?

With a host of solo stage shows under his belt, one-man cavalcade of comedy David Benson impersonates the titular character with alarming accuracy, bumbling from one gaffe-turned-coup to the next with all the exuberance, Freudian slips and boyish charm you’d expect of his subject.

Benson’s Boris more than meets his match, however, in the steely glare of his weary political aide Helen, brilliantly portrayed by a bemused Alice McCarthy, who fights in vain to keep the ‘show’ on course and free of controversy. It’s a framing device that absolutely pays off, as the duo scramble to avert farcical scandal to everyone’s delight.

What should I look out for?

A fourth wall so frequently shattered, you’ll wonder who granted it planning permission in the first place. Like any good politician, this show is hysterically self-aware and isn’t afraid to make the most of it – front row, beware.

More cutting one-liners than a session of Prime Minister’s Questions. Crawshaw’s writing features no shortage of razor-sharp wit and snappy gags, with Benson and McCarthy delivering a mirthful masterclass in comic timing to suit.  

Who was in the opening night crowd?

Amongst others plucked from the safety of the audience was Holly, whom we soon discovered to be an extremely accomplished player of the old “wiff-waff.” Spiffing show, Holly!

In a nutshell?

The raucous gaffes fly in from left, right and centre – mostly right, of course – in this barmy, loosely biographical account of London’s ever-popular Mayor.

What’s being said on Twitter?

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Will I like it?

However partisan your allegiances, Boris: World King never strays too far down the path of political criticism, instead opting to err on the side of gently mocking playfulness. While subtle allusions to deeper commentary are abound, Crawshaw’s writing instead celebrates everything that we’ve come to love about the buoyant figure of ‘BoJo’. As those of us with notepads were ordered to scribble down, “it’s educational, and entertaining” – mea culpa if you don’t agree. 

Boris: World King is playing at Trafalgar Studios 2 until 14 May. You can book tickets through the venue’s website.

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