STAGE REVIEW: The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Wednesday, January 22 to, Saturday, January 25, 2020.

IN out, in out!

It sounds just like the political version of the Hokey Cokey from the halls of the House of Commons. Well that is what it’s all about, or appears to for the past few years. For Brexit or against - and, of course, naked ambition…

Johnathan Maitland’s delightfully witty and topical script on the opening night of its 2020 tour at Malvern takes us back to the early days of the EU Referendum campaign. Meetings between those for leaving, others preferring the status quo, and all manner of skulduggery behind the scenes.

The keys to Number 10 are just part of Bojo’s temptation. Then, now and into the future, as Maitland takes us through the years of all the shenanigans of 2016 through to a futuristic date in the late 2020s.

We’re provided with the impression that the dishevelled devil actually enjoys the spectacle he often makes of himself with that mop of blond hair, tie undone and shirt hanging out of his trousers.

Possibly due to dressing quickly given the number of ladies quoted as being in his colourful career.

A clever script and outstanding performances hinting strongly towards Dead Ringers, the delightful tv series that provided cutting edge impressions of those in high office, offers a slice of a little insight into our Bojo.

Is he a superb political strategist or is he one of those irritable idiots in the corner of your local pub who believes he has all the answers and attempts to pass them on?

You can take Boris both ways but whichever way sways you you can’t deny he is warmly entertaining. He can be right, or way off beam, but he is captivatingly enjoyable and can’t be ignored.

That’s why this comedy creates such a buzz.

And as for on stage Will Barton is sheer quality as the twice mayor of London, former foreign secretary and would-be PM.

It all takes us back to that infamous Islington dinner party of 2016, when Boris at last went for Brexit.

Michael Gove was there; so too the owner of the London Evening Standard, Evgeny Lebedev – but the dinner and rhwe night has a disappointing twist as actress Liz Hurley is nowhere to be seen. All great take-offs and quality dialogue.

There are visits by the ghosts of Margaret Thatcher, and his hero Winston Churchill, even visions of Tony Blair, played by Bill Champion, who like Emma Davies, Claire Lichie and Tim Wallers, play more than one role.

They are stunningly accurate and it’s all great fun, but just what is Boris’ last temptation.

As we move into the future it has to be a return to the top table, a sixth book on Churchill and a quite a key reversal of thought and deed!

Not to be taken too seriously this is pure ‘temptation’ capable of uniting leavers and remainers and entertaining with a capital ‘E’.