Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre until March 20
Featuring Phillip Scott, Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe & Amanda Bishop
Photos by Brett Boardman
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
Is this really the end of an era?
The Wharf Revue has been a brilliant musical, political, satirical staple since 2000, although I reviewed it in its first incarnation as Three Men and a Baby Grand at The Tilbury ten years before.
After the hazmat-suited person fumigated the stage, we’re reminded that we’re in for something different when Phillip Scott performs his opening piano bit wearing a hula costume complete with a coconut shell bra. Scomo would have been nostalgic.
In one of the productions within the production, Labor Party factionalism and branch stacking is in the style of the musical, Cats. The most memorable song, Memory, is performed by Amanda Bishop as Julia Gillard, although Bishop’s speaking voice is far more subtle than the woman she portrays.
A highlight of the show is Drew Forsythe’s channeling of Pauline Hanson who pummels the English language into submission. The character is the personification of the point at which absolute conviction and total ignorance converge.
Also making appearances are Barry Jones, Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden, Jacqui Lambie, K.Rudd, Anthony Albanese, who is given a Liz Smylie-esque speech affectation, Dr Norman Swan and the reincarnation of Bob Santamaria, Eric Abetz.
To facilitate the many costume and make up changes, some of the sketches are in video form and are screened on the large cyclorama.
The Trump administration is set in the wild west, with Trump as the corrupt town mayor, and Giuliani, Fauci and Melania make appearances. There was restrained but enthusiastic applause and cheering from the audience when Trump was shot several times.
This production contains its share of pathos with Forsythe’s paraphrasing of The Sound of Silence set in the bleak, deserted streets of New York City, Bishop’s sad koala and Premier Dating with Gladys Berejiklian.
The experience and talent of the three original members can’t be trained or bought. As a teenage NIDA student, I first saw Drew Forsythe in The Old Tote production of The Taming of The Shrew in the 1970s. Jonathan Biggins is a multi-award-winning actor and Phillip Scott is an outstanding and versatile musical gift to Australian theatre.
The Wharf Revue: Good Night and Good Luck will apparently be the last of the series, so it would be worth grabbing a ticket while you can.