It’s what we’ve all been waiting for… Boris – The Musical! Writer of said musical masterpiece, Laurence Peacock, gave us the lowdown on this piece of theatrical genius.
Hi Laurence, so this September audiences in Doncaster and Sheffield will be lucky enough to have a comical ‘BoJo’ grace their theatrical stages, along with other actors and actresses playing lead politicians. Can you tell us what it is about Boris Johnson that inspired you to write a musical about the life of our current Foreign Secretary?
I think at first it was anger, to be honest. We’d just seen the referendum result (I was a “soft” remain) and of all the scumbags gracing our national stage, it seemed like Boris was the most reprehensible. It was the way he’d clearly put personal ambition above principle. So I started writing “The Ballad of Boris Johnson” and this swiftly (and in my head, quite logically) turned into a musical.
How did you conduct your research for the musical?
Whilst everything in the show is entirely accurate, I wasn’t that fussed about documentary realism. I watched a couple of documentaries and read an autobiography or two. Having said that, we have taken a much more rigorous approach to the truth than Boris ever did during the referendum campaign.
Writing the songs for the musical, did you tie in direct quotes from the politicians of interest or is it all your own words and interpretations?
Most of the songs are flights of fancy. “Me and My Johnson”, for example, took a bit of guess work. But there are direct quotes included in the actual scenes.
Do you think Boris Johnson would be offended by the musical if he were to see it?
I don’t think so, no. About 90% of what’s in there is stuff he’s already confessed to on camera. We haven’t set out to offend anyone. But we do take a harsh (but fair, I think) line on Boris’s political opportunism. And we’ve suggested a 14+ age recommendation for audience members as there is a bit of swearing and some moderate innuendo.
Have you got a particular target audience in mind for the play? For instance will people’s thoughts on Brexit have an impact on the way they respond to the musical?
First and foremost, it’s a comedy. Anyone can come and enjoy an hour of gags, songs and a few nob jokes. But the more you know about Boris and British politics, the more you’ll enjoy it as I have tucked some actual wit away in there… somewhere. The show covers Boris’ whole life so far, with a focus on Brexit in the second half. I should imagine if you’ve felt cheated out of your EU membership, you’ll enjoy our take on Bozzer.
Do you foresee the play touring to cities elsewhere in England after Doncaster and Sheffield?
Yes, we’re looking to do a tour of the north (or “Tourth” as we’re calling it) come winter. We haven’t organised it yet as we’ve been a touch busy producing a musical in two and a half months. But watch this space.
Finally, in one word, how would you describe the play?
Interview by Charlotte Howson