The Standard sent a reporter along to write about the first performance of the Lockdown Files Live on Saturday, in which I interviewed Isabel Oakeshott on stage about working with Matt Hancock on the Pandemic Diaries, why he shared over 100,000 WhatsApp messages with her, and why she then decided to turn them over to the Telegraph. To break up the interview, two gifted actors read out some of the more embarrassing exchanges, with Adam Drew playing Hancock and Adrian McGlynn playing Boris, which the audience found very entertaining. We’re doing it again on Tuesday night at the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, for which a handful of tickets are still available. Only £25 for two hours of rock solid entertainment in the West End, which must be the bargain of the century! There’s also a very nice bar. Click here if you’d like to buy a ticket.
Here’s how the Standard piece begins:
It’s past 9pm on Saturday night in Westminster, and Matt Hancock is shouting “we didn’t break the f**king law, OK!” Well, an actor playing Hancock is shouting, as he reads out real messages from the former health secretary when his Covid guidelines-breaking affair with aide Gina Coladangelo was discovered in 2021.
It’s part of a new live show put on by Isabel Oakeshott, the journalist Hancock fell out with when she leaked his pandemic WhatsApps to a newspaper earlier this year.
For most of the show, Oakeshott is interviewed on stage by fellow lockdown sceptic Toby Young at the UnHerd Club near Parliament, in front of around 100 people. She and Young decided to do a live event after he was one of the few people in the media to defend her decision to reveal the messages. Young then suggested getting actors to read out Hancock’s WhatsApps, to add some fun to proceedings. Hancock himself hasn’t been that keen on the idea.
Oakeshott tells Young how she came to write a pandemic book with Hancock, and stands by her actions, saying they were in the public interest. She says she wouldn’t be able to do that now, as most MPs have switched on auto-delete on their WhatsApp conversations. “Maybe that’s just for me”, she jokes.
In between the chat, the actors do their thing, dressed in ill-fitting suits. Highlights include chats with then PM Boris Johnson about exceptions for grouse shooting, and a cringe-inducing monologue where Hancock justifies wearing a wetsuit for a photoshoot in Cornwall. The group will perform again tomorrow, at the Leicester Square Hippodrome, usually the home of strip show Magic Mike. Hopefully, no one books their hen do on the wrong night. If they get the backing, they’d like to do a verbatim play.
Adrian McGlynn, who plays Hancock, is an amateur actor and retired director of a horse-racing company. He was in the same year at Eton with David Cameron, while his partner is former BBC radio star Sarah Kennedy. McGlynn is an anti-lockdown advocate, and says he isn’t doing an impression of Hancock. “I don’t look anything like him,” he says, but does try a few verbal tics (“Lots of ‘ers’ and ‘umms”), and some mannerisms. “He looks around a lot, as if he’s looking for praise or applause… nose up in the air a little bit,” McGlynn says.
“I have nothing but contempt for our former health secretary, so I do it with much glee and no fear,” he says with relish. “I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief at his arrogance and total immunity from self-awareness”. Meanwhile, actor Adam Drew gives an on-the-money impression of Johnson.
Worth reading in full.
If you’d like to buy a ticket for Tuesday night’s second and final performance at the Hippodrome, click here.
Stop Press: The Telegraph has just released a video about the Lockdown Files. You can watch it here.