Boris: World King, Edinburgh Fringe review: Comically portraying a persona, only to skewer it later

Inevitably, he keeps messing it up – aside from forgetting lines, chatting up the front row, and falling over a lot, a political crisis also keeps intruding

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The Independent Culture

Ah, Boris Johnson. What a lovable fool! A harmless, bumbling toff. This show comically portrays this persona - before effectively skewering it, suggesting such buffoonery is a calculated character adopted by Boris to win power.

David Benson plays BoJo, replicating his throaty, burbling vocal tics, and a clumsy oafishness through unsubtle slapstick. Alice McCarthy is his long-suffering assistant, trying to keep Boris’ solo-show attempt “to win the Foster’s Comedy Award” on track.

Inevitably, he keeps messing it up – aside from forgetting lines, chatting up the front row, and falling over a lot, a political crisis also keeps intruding. The Independent – yes – threatens to print a story about Boris calling a war veteran a greedy, cake-stealing scrounger.

Benson is highly amusing as Boris, but at first this seems like a cosy, affectionate ribbing. But Boris: World King slowly bares its teeth. There’s an undercurrent of anger that emerges, writer Tom Crawshaw increasingly incredulous at the things Johnson gets away with: the broken promises, the foot-in-mouth opinions, the adulterous impregnations… It may proffer a comic dues ex machina as the reason for Johnson’s unstoppable ascension, but we’re also left with the sense that it’s really just down to arrogance, entitlement, and the canny deployment of a good sense of humour.

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