Johnson and Boswell – Late But Live
Question and answer session with two great wits
This article is from 2007.
In 1773 Samuel Johnson, the portly curmudgeon of English letters, accompanied James Boswell on a tour of the Scottish Highlands. The trip was a fruitful one, with each penning accounts of their trip, the Englishman documenting the gradual decay of the clan system and his Scottish companion chronicling their travels in a prelude to his great biography The Life of Johnson.
Two hundred and thirty-four years on, Stewart Lee has devised this modern day take on the pair’s gallivanting. ‘Johnson said all of these funny lines and they are as good as any stand-up now,’ says Lee. ‘I had read the two books about the Scottish travels and thought they would be great as a kind of chat show or a book launch.’ Simon Munnery, for Lee, is well cast as Johnson. ‘I had Simon in mind for Johnson from the start as he writes in a similar way to Johnson,’ he says. ‘I later bumped into Miles Jupp and thought his persona would suit Boswell perfectly. We’ve been talking about when you see Jonathan Ross interviewing Iggy Pop or someone he’s obsessed with and how he almost can’t believe he’s allowed to do it. Boswell following Johnson around, writing everything down, had something of the flavour of a star struck journalist. But it is also a story about friendship.’
Traverse Theatre, 228 1404, 8–26 Aug (not 13, 20), 10.30pm, £16 (£5–£11). Preview 7 Aug, £11 (£5).