Wednesday, October 24, 2018


The Wharf Review 2018 Déjà Revue. Written and created by Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe. Musical director Andrew Worboys. Sydney Theatre Company. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. Oct 23 –Nov 3.

I confess to periodically deciding The Wharf Revue is corny and there were stretches of this year’s instalment that might have qualified. Parody songs and impersonations can become tedious after a bit, especially with the roar of a Canberra crowd that wants to recognise every single reference to a pollie or an issue.

But it did have one excellent set change, from the elegant ballroom (where languished Rachel Beck’s wonderfully forlorn Malcolm Turnbull as Cinderella/Principal Boy) to no nonsense scaffolding at the pull of a couple of cords.

And it did have Jonathan Biggins doing a magnificent Keating, settling into the body language of the Bryan Westwood portrait with an eerie precision.

Illness meant Wharf regular Drew Forsythe was replaced by Simon Burke and that gave us the pick of the evening which would have to be Burke’s melancholy Queen faced with the appalling manners of a Trump. The burden of a job for life seemed very heavy as she walked among the roses and endured first Prince Phillip’s then Trump’s carry on.

It was a welcome quiet spot in a show full of the turmoil of Scott Morrison’s nightmares, Barney Joyce’s attempts to justify his love life, Gladys Berejiklian ‘improving’ Sydney’s transport and Trump rampant everywhere.

A cast that also included Douglas Hansell (eerie as Dutton) and musical director Andrew Worboys (wearing the odd wig and supplying a lot of live keyboard) demonstrated taut teamwork, brisk transitions and a clear sense of revue traditions. The Canberra mob enjoyed it no end.

Alanna Maclean