At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Adam Meggido will be taking the world premiere of Boris the Third to the Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance One, with performances at 4:10pm during August, with the show about the rise and fall of the recent Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Another of Adam’s shows, which he co-created, directed and stars in – Showstopper! The Improvised Musical – is returning for their 13th year at Edinburgh Fringe, showing throughout August at 9:30pm at Pleasance Courtyard – The Grand, and in 2016, the show won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Comedy. Adam will also be performing in Starship Improvise at Pleasance Dome – King Dome at 3pm during August, with the cast members featuring talent from Mischief Theatre, Showstopper! and Austentatious. Alongside working on his own shows, Adam is a director for Mischief Theatre’s productions of Magic Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, with the Mischief Theatre team having worked with Adam previously when they were students at LAMDA and Adam a teacher. We recently spoke to Adam, who answered our questions about appearing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe with Boris the Third, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical and Starship Improvise, co-creating Showstopper! and being a director with Mischief Theatre.
Can you tell us about the show Boris the Third, which you have written and directed?
It’s inspired by the true story of Boris Johnson playing the role of Richard III when he was at school, aged 18. Apparently, he didn’t learn his lines and the result was utter chaos. Boris III is a comedy imagining of what that school play might have been like.
How long have you been working on the show and where did you get the inspiration from to write it?
I wrote it towards the end of the last lockdown. I read an article online, Twitter I think, saying that Boris had played Richard II at school but never learned his lines. It sounded like a great conceit for a play. I looked into it, and it turned out to be Richard III, not II. This worked even better! I have been rewriting it ever since, to keep it fresh and relevant to current affairs. Boris has certainly kept me busy.
What are you looking forward to most for the world premiere of Boris the Third at Edinburgh Fringe in August?
I have a terrific cast and team working on it. I think it’s funny and provocative and I can’t wait to share it with the Edinburgh audiences.
As co-creator and director of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, how is it taking it back to Edinburgh Fringe for its 13th year?
We are absurdly excited. We’ve deeply missed doing the show in Edinburgh and we are thrilled to be back again, making up musicals on the spot, based on ideas from our amazing audiences.
What’s it like seeing the success of the show, which includes winning the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Comedy?
Well, I don’t see a downside.
As a performer in the show as well, what is this like and do you have any favourite memories since Showstopper! was created?
It’s a wild ride. It’s a musical clown high-wire act. I love it. I have so many wonderful memories of the show over the years, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I love it when the audience genuinely comes up with extraordinarily beautiful ideas that make everyone gasp. But the madness is equally wonderful. I fondly remember playing the role of David Cameron riding a llama through the streets of war-torn London and singing in the style of David Bowie. They don’t teach you that at drama school.
You’re set to perform in Starship Improvise at Edinburgh Fringe, can you say more about it?
Gladly. It’s a brand-new show featuring members of Mischief Theatre, Showstopper!, and Austentatious – an exceptionally talented bunch! Every day we improvise an episode of a Star Trek-style sci-fi soap opera. You can watch any stand-alone episode or come and watch how the series develops. We also begin by meeting the actors from the show at a Comic-Con-style convention, and at any moment we can cut back to those actors commenting on how the show was made. So it’s a sci-fi comedy, a soap opera, AND a DVD commentary all in one!
Why would you recommend booking tickets for Boris the Third, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical and Starship Improvise and who do you think they will appeal to?
Boris the Third is a biting satirical comedy that has become even more relevant since I wrote it. It’s a reflection on the rise and fall of our recent PM. And it’s funny – which is what we all need right now. Laugher. And there will be plenty of laughter in Starship Improvise and Showstopper! too. You don’t need to be a fan of the genres (either musicals or sci-fi) to enjoy those shows. They are great, fun events that will engage you and keep you laughing.
How is it being a director for Mischief Theatre’s shows Magic Goes Wrong and Peter Pan Goes Wrong and how different are each to direct?
The Mischief team work very hard (and continuously) to hone their shows, so you never really finish working on them – work is ongoing. They are large-scale, ambitious pieces that involve complex technical and visual elements. I worked with all of the Mischief team members at LAMDA years ago when I was teaching there and they were students, so it’s very meaningful for me to be working for them now, and I consider myself very blessed to be doing so.
What do you enjoy most about working with Mischief Theatre and the cast and crew?
People work very hard to ensure audiences have a lot of fun. I love the laughter.
What are some of your stand-out highlights of being part of Mischief Theatre over the years so far?
I remember the first time we put Peter Pan Goes Wrong in front of an audience. I was confident that it would be funny, but I didn’t expect the kind of wild – almost hysterical – response. The theatre was literally shaking with laughter. I also loved working with magicians Penn and Teller, both of whom are delightful gentlemen with a huge wealth of knowledge and experience.
Where does your love of improvisation, writing and directing come from and how did you start?
I have always been a fantasist. I love other worlds and I love creating and exploring them. The only difference in improv is that you are creating them live in the moment with communal storytelling.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I’m learning French and Italian. I’m also a massive foodie.
Do you have any advice to give a new writer or someone starting out in improvisation?
Explore everything for a while, especially when young/starting out. As soon as you get a feel for what you like, go as deeply into it as you can. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do something. The more people told me that something was ‘impossible’, the keener I was to do it. And I did. And I regret nothing.
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