It feels utterly fitting that the man who directed Peter Pan Goes Wrong and Magic Goes Wrong both wrote and directed this darkly enjoyable play. Adam Meggido shoots the whole thing through with farce and satire, taking the legend of one Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s time at Eton and how, having scored the lead role in the school’s production of Richard III, he spectacularly failed to learn any of his lines. With foreboding like that who could resist?
Boris The Third is downright juicy with entitlement and bluster. There are huge echoes of both current political events and the play the cast are rehearsing in this clever writing. Harry Kershaw is magnetic as Boris, cajoling, seducing, betraying, and totally convinced of his entitlement to do anything he pleases without thought for the consequences or their effect upon those around him. The cadence is down pat, the words bursting from his mouth in bluster, conjunctions dropped and Latin added. There are even direct and paraphrased quotes from recent press conferences – “Good question, I’m glad you asked it -” he fillibusters, later declaring in utter earnest: “I think you’re being completely unreasonable about this”, when cornered with the truth of his misdoings.
It’s telling that he first enters the stage having just won the inter-school debate – a bastion of style over substance. Kershaw’s portrayal of such blithe confidence is fascinating, arriving adorned with a civic crown and the arrogance that it totally belongs on top of the recognisable haystack of pale hair.
As the night of the performance the group of students are rehearsing for approaches, so too does the satire turn to heightened farce – the kind Mischief Theatre and Adam Meggido are so very good at. Sets are moving, timing is to the last second, and the choreography is utterly enthralling. It must be said that the set design from Alex Marker is brilliant in its versatility and impressive set pieces.
The tableau of Boris as the lights drop says a lot. He’s unrepentant and apparently oblivious to the destruction wrought, left to follow where his nature might lead him. It’s in his nature, is the message. What else could we expect?
Boris The Third
16.10 Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance One, 3-29 (except 15th) August 2022