Sunday, April 7, 2019


by Nakkiah Lui. Directed by Paige Rattray. Sydney Theatre Company. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre. April 3-6.

With elections looming  How to Rule The World is a timely political satire by Nakkiah Lui. (Although you could run an argument that such stuff is always timely for the patterns are depressingly repetitive.)

In the curved parliamentary corridors of power (splendid set by Marg Horwell supported by imaginative lighting and AV from Emma Valente) three staffers, Vic (Lui), Zaza (Michelle Lim Davidson) and Chris (Anthony Taufa) plot to derail legislation by creating their own candidate from the clay that is actor Lewis Lewis (Hamish Michael).

Chris is Tongan, Zaza Korean and Vic is Aboriginal and two of them are female. They don’t think they’re likely to get elected themselves at the upcoming half senate election.  So to counter the men in suits and to shift the political agenda they create their own man in a suit, the vacuous but compelling Tommy Ryan.

This is pretty funny stuff and the transformation of Lewis into Tommy Ryan is very well realised by Michael.

The play has great comic energy that’s occasionally derailed by a pause for some serious reflection. It’s not that this is out of tune with the issues. It just feels stylistically tacked on.

However, the drive of the piece is excellent and once Tommy Ryan stands next to Rhys Muldoon’s brutally bland Prime Minister it’s chilling.

Lui, Lim Davidson and Taufa make a hard driving fast living trio of too-clever manipulators and they are given excellent support by Gareth Davies and Vanessa Downing as a range of mostly eccentric parliamentary characters.

It is to be hoped that actual events do not outpace this play.

Alanna Maclean