Edinburgh Pageant 2022: Boris III – skinny satire pulls its punches

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he queues stretch around the block for Adam Meggido’s Boris Johnson satire, and it’s simple to see why. That is an Edinburgh fringe whose line-up largely ignores current main world occasions – it’s stuffed with tender, considerate exhibits dreamt up pre-pandemic, pre-cost of residing disaster, and pre-partygate. So the prospect of a bit cathartic group rage is scrumptious.

Because the auditorium fills, you may really feel the viewers bristling in anticipation, prepared for an Orwellian two-minute hate session directed at their haystack-haired, hangdog-mouthed, belatedly-ousted chief. However sadly, this underwhelming comedy presents nothing to gasoline the fires: it’s as limp and unappetising as a soggy biscuit.

Meggido bases his story on an intriguing snippet from Boris’s ignominious biography. Apparently, as an 18-year-old schoolboy, he performed the title position in Shakespeare’s Richard III, failing to be taught his strains and pasting the script to the set’s pillars so he might shamble his manner via the motion. So this comedy transports us straight again to 1982, because the Falklands Battle simmers, to a rehearsal room at Eton whose occupants are on the verge of mutiny.

Boris is late, as ordinary: he’s been held up at a “mass debating” competitors, as one in all his co-stars punningly complains. In the meantime, his girlfriend/main woman Katie is fuming after discovering out that he’s slept along with her sister Agatha, and the lecturers are on his case after he hosted a “communal homework gathering” that appeared suspiciously like a bootleg dorm social gathering.

Andrew Pugsley

This BoJo origin story presents the PM as absolutely fashioned from day dot, already on obfuscating, womanising, unlawful party-holding type. And that sense is amplified by Mischief Theatre alumnus Harry Kershaw’s central efficiency. The actual-life Boris typically seems like a chastened schoolboy, however paradoxically, Boris appears unconvincingly grown up right here: Kershaw replicates all of Boris’s acquainted vocal tics, delivering his strains with a portly bluster that’s suggestive of a long time of efficiently getting away with it.

And as a substitute of the type of all-out mayhem this sort of farce wants, we get a sequence of contrived set-pieces. The coed actors are led by a visiting skilled director, whose ethnicity is used to exhibit Boris’s racism in what looks like an underexplored manner – in a fury, he calls her a “piccaninny”.  Conveniently, Agatha’s boyfriend is a marine, so he turns as much as rage in opposition to the way in which the scholars use the Falklands Battle as jingoistic set-dressing for their very own dramas.

Boris the Third is taking intention in any respect the best targets, nevertheless it solely lands floor wounds. That is juvenile humour, seldom trying past the partitions of the sixth-form frequent room, and with little suggestion that actual world repercussions observe from these Etonians’ jolly japes. As an alternative, this can be a skinny, just-about-enjoyable bone, thrown to an viewers that’s hungry for one thing extra satisfying.

Pleasance Courtyard, August 10-14, 16-29; edfringe.com


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