THEATRE: 26 OCTOBER 2014
By GERALDINE WORTHINGTON
The 2014 Wharf Revue: Open for Business, written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe & Phillip Scott
Sydney Theatre Company | Wharf 1 Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney | Until 20 December
It is that time of year again! As 2014 comes to a close it is time to irreverently review the year in politics. The title of The Wharf Revue this year is Open for Business, which references Tony Abbott’s 2013 victory speech “And from today, I declare that Australia is under new management and that Australia is once more open for business.”
Therefore, as one would expect, the Abbott Government cops a giant serve, especially in The Canberra Tales, in which the Banker and the Miner swap stories about various get-rich-quick schemes that can be accessed if you travel to Canberra, and Scott Morrison is embedded in a ménage à trois with a certain military general. And that’s just to mention two skits.
But the Opposition also cops a serve, with Blinky Bill Shorten in the koala settlement trying to save the grass roots of the Labor Party, and the PUP outfit on the bench with Coach Palmer (Jonathan Biggins) discussing ‘strategies’.
As you are doubtless aware, the show follows a familiar set-up of satirical sketches that mostly mock our illustrious leaders, past and present. The regular crew, Jonathan Biggins, Amanda Bishop and Phillip Scott all play numerous roles, and Douglas Hansell makes an impressive debut.
Jonathan Biggins once again steals the show as Paul Keating, consistently winning laughs with an uncanny, sharply observed, but ultimately reverent facsimile of the semi-retired politician. He is also equally hilarious as Bob Brown, dirty dancing with Christine Milne (Amanda Bishop), to Get Back Your Green Thang.
Amanda Bishop plays all the female characters and astounds again with her superb singing voice and we’re repeatedly reminded what an astonishingly good pianist Phillip Scott is. Likewise, Douglas Hansell has an impressive vocal range as well as rendering a wicked caricature of Christopher Pyne saying his prayers at bedtime.
It is a fast-paced and slick performance, enhanced in particular this year by David Bergman’s dynamic video design and Matthew Marshall’s striking lighting design.
The astute, perceptive and highly informed writing and the incredibly accurate impersonations are, as always, what makes The Wharf Revue so entertaining year after year.
But it is also splendidly satirical and sophisticated. Vices, abuses, and inadequacies are all held up to mockery, with the intent of entertaining but also, hopefully, shaming individuals, businesses, government and society itself into improvement.
Ninety minutes of hilarity. You will not walk away dissatisfied.