Sunday, October 5, 2014

THE WHARF REVUE: OPEN FOR BUSINESS



Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott
Presented by the Sydney Theatre Company
Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse
30 September – 4 October, 2014

Review by Len Power 30 September 2014


Why is it that every time I see the Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘The Wharf Revue’, I feel that it was even better than last year’s?  Well, this year is no exception.

Starting with a very funny impersonation of Bronwyn Bishop as the Speaker of the House, Drew Forsythe on video had the audience in hysterics.  From that point on, the sketches came thick and fast hardly giving the audience time to breathe between laughs.

The show displays a high standard of writing by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott.  They are accurate in their satire and, while taking the mickey out of our politicians, they’re not personally offensive.  Well, not really.  Nothing is sacred and even unlucky Malaysia Airlines got a mention.  Scripts appear to be constantly updated while they’re on the road.  There was even a swipe at the plan to send boat people to Cambodia which was only in the news last week.

Phillip Scott’s musical expertise is another strong point of the show.  When he takes the stage for one of his music solos, he amazes with his verbal and piano playing dexterity.

The cast of four consists of three regulars – Jonathan Biggins, Amada Bishop and Phillip Scott – and newcomer, Douglas Hansell, replacing Drewe Forsythe on stage this year as he is still busy with ‘Strictly Ballroom’. All cast members shine individually with their energy, characterisations, impeccable sense of timing and fine singing.  Especially notable is Amanda Bishop who seems able to sing accurately in any style, even opera.  Her turn as Julie Bishop based on the mechanical doll, Olympia, from ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’ was a show-stopper.

The sound and video projections by designer, David Bergman, and video artist, Todd Decker, were excellent.  The staging of the show was very slick with fast transitions between the sketches.  Energy and pace were maintained throughout the show.

It was hard to think of any prominent politicians who weren’t picked on in the show.  Maybe if someone important was left out it’s a sign that they’re not doing their job properly!

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ showbiz program with Bill Stephens on Sunday 5 October 2014 from 5pm.

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