Film Review: The Wharf Review

The Wharf Revue


Produced by Australian National Theatre Live

Featuring Phillip Scott, Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe & Amanda Bishop

Photograph by Brett Boardman

Dendy Opera Quays

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

The Wharf Review

True, I normally only review theatre, but was curious to find out if stage productions can be effectively translated to the big screen.

The Wharf Revue is celebrating its 15th anniversary at the Sydney Theatre Company. I don’t review Wharf productions because the STC doesn’t seem to believe that blogs have the credibility or the coverage, so I saw the cinematic version.

I used to cover The Wharf Revue shows in their first incarnation as Three Men and a Baby Grand about 25 years ago at The Tilbury Hotel in Woolloomooloo. At that time, the satires were controversial, topical and very cleverly written. The Wharf Revue is more expansive to accommodate the bigger room and the show has been amped up and become slicker. Phillip Scott’s singing voice has also come up a few notches.

Phillip Scott, Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe are the original members of the troupe, with Scott as the Musical Director, and the team has been enhanced by the inclusion of Amanda Bishop.

The Wharf Review

I first saw Forsythe at the Old Tote Theatre Company in The Taming of the Shrew and in How Could You Believe Me When I Said I'd Be Your Valet When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?

Scott’s John Howard is the ever-popular family favourite and Jonathan Biggins looks and sounds uncannily like Peter Costello. Keating, Rudd, Abbott, Hawke, Palmer and Downer are also celebrated, and it was interesting to see Bishop doing Bishop. Amanda Bishop’s Julia Gillard is well-known to Australian television audiences, although her version’s voice is less fingernails-down-a-blackboard abrasive than the person she impersonates. Bishop also manages to nail Jacqui Lambie, Emma Alberici and Annabel Crabb. In satirising the politicians, The Wharf Revue pays homage to Les Miz and The Phantom of The Opera.

So did The Wharf Revue translate to the big screen? Given that the cinematography has been well done, talent and content can come across in any medium. Australian National Theatre Live are to be congratulated for expanding the appeal of theatre and will hopefully be a vehicle for generating greater interest in live theatre.

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