Wednesday, November 13, 2019


By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott
Sydney Theatre Company production
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre to 23 November

Reviewed by Len Power 12 November 2019

Much more enlightening than a Freedom of Information request, The Wharf Revue is back in town.  Once again, no politician from here or overseas is safe from their merciless spotlight and the high quality of script, performances and production ensures that audiences will not be disappointed.

While two of the creators, Jonathan Biggins and Phillip Scott, don’t appear on stage in this edition, their fingerprints are all over the show in terms of writing, direction and musical supervision.  Writer and performer, Drew Forsythe, is back and also co-directs.  Simon Burke makes a welcome return to the company and is joined by the formidably talented Lena Cruz, Helen Dallimore and Andrew Worboys, who is also the musical director.

Simon Burke and Drew Forsythe

Simon Burke does a better Scott Morrison than Scott Morrison and Drew Forsythe has a fat lot of fun with Clive Palmer.  Boris Johnson gets the works from Simon Burke and Lena Cruz and Helen Dallimore are hysterical as Penny Wong and Jacqui Lambie singing ‘Sisters’ in a sauna.

Lena Cruz and Helen Dallimore

Lena Cruz really scores in a perceptive segment about Aung Sun Suu Kyi and Drew Forsythe said farewell to Bob Hawke in a particularly well-written and ultimately affectionate tribute.  Kristina Keneally, Mark Latham, Cardinal George Pell and various world leaders were not spared by this wicked team.  Drew Forsythe only has to walk out on stage and stand there as Pauline Hanson to bring the house down.

Wig stylist, Margaret Aston, has done excellent work with the many wigs worn by the cast and the large number of costumes have been well-chosen as well.

Using many songs from well-known Broadway shows with expertly changed lyrics, the musical elements of the show work very well especially with such experienced musical performers in the cast.

The fluid direction ensures that the show moves at a fast pace on an attractively designed set by Charles Davis with cleverly designed and witty projections by Ben Lightowlers.

The show runs for 90 minutes without interval.  The smart scripting keeps each of the segments short enough to make their point but not so long as to overstay their welcome.  It was surprising how quickly those 90 minutes passed.

It’s been announced that next year’s Wharf Revue will be the last.  It’s become such an institution that it will be sorely missed.  Get along to see this very entertaining show while you still can.

Photos by Brett Boardman

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.