Who's The Daddy?, King's Head Theatre, Islington

Boris and Blunkett are full of frolics but low on laughs
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The Independent Culture

From the opening scene, in which Boris is heard exerting himself under a desk engaged, we are led to assume, in some of the athletic activity that led the magazine to be dubbed "The Sex Paper", The Spec and its staff are portrayed as drunken, scheming and sex obsessed, either stabbing each other in the back or too stupid to be aware of the knife behind them.

Tim Hudson plays Boris as a "Cripes Gadzooks" type of buffoon, dreaming of the post-Saul Reichlin's Michael Howard dangled before him, that of Shadow Home Secretary. Boris's office, where the play is set, is dominated by a portrait of Margaret Thatcher, which falls down into a bed on which the adulterous couple - David Blunkett and The Spectator's publisher Kimberly Quinn, Boris and his columnist Petronella Wyatt, and The Spectator's associate editor, Rod Liddle, and the receptionist Tiffany, can frolic.

Various other props enable the trysting couples to dash about, and the mishaps to occur. Renaldo, the gay chef, ends up performing oral sex on both Boris and Blunkett while hiding in the cupboard pretending to be Kimberly. The windows on to the street provide the entrance through which Blunkett appears dressed in a Spiderman suit and holding, upside down, a Father's For Justice banner, when Quinn gives birth. Just who is the daddy of her triplets provides the twist on which the curtain closes.

The fun of this production is in the caricatures of the protagonists. Kimberly Quinn is portrayed as a ghastly harridan, prepared to ply her charm on anyone of power, even, rather implausibly, Michael Howard. Peter Hamilton-Dyer's Liddle should please the real life Rod, being considerably better looking, even if he is given to cringe-making lines such as "My name Rod Liddle - but don't think that means I've got a little rod." Reichlin plays Howard for vampiric laughs, although his accent regularly veers several thousand miles eastward from the Tory leader's native Wales to the Indian subcontinent.

What began as a sketch to perform at The Spectator's summer party has not shed the air of amateur dramatics. This is not a play for those who have no interest in the antics in The Spectator's Doughty Street offices. It is a highly enjoyable in-joke, and one which several of the magazine staff, including Boris's secretary Ann Sindall, were there to enjoy. It's summed up by David Blunkett's reaction when told there is an undercover journalist in the office. "A journalist?" he replies, "At The Spectator? Surely not."