STC’s The Wharf Revue – Celebrating 15 years…reviewed by Deb Meyer

October 28, 2015 by Deb Meyer
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A usual highlight in the Sydney Theatre Company calendar, The Wharf Revue, is back again, this time in celebration of 15 years and 21 shows, poking as much fun as always at the follies of our political icons.Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott – the original creators, and joined by Amanda Bishop, the four wonderfully perform their usual satirical silliness and musical mayhem executed with great wit and playful wordsmithery.

Phillip Scott and Amanda Bishop in Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue ©Brett Boardman

Phillip Scott and Amanda Bishop in Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue ©Brett Boardman

Selected highlights from past revues are performed along with new material, allowing the audience to revisit the lampooning of the immediately recognisable Bob Hawke (Drew Forsythe) and Paul Keating (Jonathan Biggins), humorously in a scene together in a nursing home, along with John Howard (Phillip Scott), Kevin Rudd (Phillip Scott) and Julia Gillard (Amanda Bishop).

Bishop’s Gillard impersonation is legendary and she is equally as impressive impersonating Jacqui Lambie, Julie Bishop and Annabel Crabb, aptly demonstrating her exquisite operatic voice as well as her comedic skills. As Musical Director extraordinaire and performer, Phillip Scott is wonderful to watch, in particular strutting the stage as the arts minister George Brandis in a tutu, stockings and

Jonathan Biggins, Phillip Scott, Amanda Bishop and Drew Forsythe in Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue ©Brett Boardman

Jonathan Biggins, Phillip Scott, Amanda Bishop and Drew Forsythe in Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue ©Brett Boardman

ballet slippers, combined with corporate jacket, shirt and tie with signature glasses, singing merrily while playing the piano. His Kevin Rudd, replete with grey wig and clear rimmed glasses is also superb. Drew Forsythe, as Alan ‘James’ Joyce, delivers a clever and poetic soliloquy in fine voice, creating facial expressions like no other, and Jonathan Biggins, as Clive Palmer, brings his irreverent humour and physicality to all of his characters. As talented actors, with superb accents and impersonation skills, the four switch numerous characters seamlessly from one scene to the next.

Drew Forsythe in Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue ©Brett Boardman

Drew Forsythe in Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue ©Brett Boardman

Other new scenes of great humour involve Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart (Drew Forsythe) conspiring on the Titanic, Matthias Cormann (Jonathan Biggins) in a clever take on saving money in a Bunnings ad and Greece’s Euro Division Song Contest, in a side-splitting scene with Biggins and Bishop in flamboyant lycra costumes and wigs, poking fun at the Greek financial crisis, in a reworded medley from the musical Greece.

The more recent manoeuvrings of Tony Abbott – ‘the man as popular as melanoma’ (wonderfully played by Jonathan Biggins), Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull (Drew Forsythe) are cleverly played out in a reworded medley from Les Miserable (Les Liberals), with Tony Abbot’s Leader of the House and Malcolm Turnbull’s Who am I? In their musical send-up, a highlight is the French proletariat – poor and homeless on the street, speaking out against their leader of the uprising, using clever fiscal and social policy arguments to dissuade him from participating in the uprising.

At one hour and forty minutes with no interval, the show progresses at a swift pace, using live performance on the 2 levels of staging, elegantly set by Barry Searle’s Loony Tunes stage design, interspersed with video skits designed by David Bergman with Todd Decker’s video artistry. This worked well in allowing time between scene changes and added a strong visual component as a back drop to the live scenes taking place in front. Lighting design by Matthew Marshall is equally impressive as are costumes by Scott Fisher and Leonie Grace and wigs by Margaret Aston, whose brilliant creations bring an immediate recognition to each character and add to the highly polished production.

The Goons skit involving the ABC Corporation fell a little flat during the performance, but it was certainly not enough to detract from this exceptionally clever and enjoyable revue in which the performers shine.

After 15 years, the Wharf Revue still packs a great punch and in a climate of frequent political shake-ups, may this great Australian Satirical Party only continue!

 

The Wharf Revue – Celebrating 15 years

Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott

Sydney Theatre Company – The Wharf Theatre, Pier 4, Hickson Road Walsh Bay

Until December 19, 2015

Duration: 1hr 40mins (no interval)

Tickets from $48 can be purchased at the Wharf Box Office (02) 9250 1777

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