Sunday, November 17, 2019


Andrew Worboys - Helen Dallimore -Drew Forsythe - Lena Cruz - Simon Burke

Written by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott.
Co-Directed by Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe -Musical Director: Andrew Worboys
Designed by Charles Davis - Lighting Design by Matt Cox
Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse – 12th to 23rd November 2019.

Performance 12th November reviewed by Bill Stephens

Lena Cruz presents  "The Diversity Tango"

Although Drew Forsythe is the only one of the original Wharf Revue trio performing in the 2019 edition of The Wharf Revue, entitled cheekily, “Unredacted”, Jonathan Biggins and Phillip Scott were certainly involved in its creation, as writers, along with Drew Forsythe. Biggins and Forsythe co-directed this edition, with Lena Cruz the only new addition to the list of performers - Helen Dallimore, Simon Burke and Andrew Worboys - all veterans of previous editions.

Performed on an attractive, versatile setting, designed by Charles Davis, around a large screen showing hilarious mini-movies which cover lightning costume changes, the 2019 edition has lost none of its sting, or its ability to leave audiences gasping with laughter at its rapier sharp political satire and outrageous parodies of popular musicals.

Drew Forsythe as Pauline Hansen as Sallie Bowles in "Cabaret" 

Think Drew Forsythe straddling a chair as Pauline Hanson as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret” singing “Maybe This Time “ - or Simon Burke as Scott Morrison as Harold Hill in “The Music Man” punching out a tongue-twisting parody of “Trouble” re-imagined as  “Canberra Bubble” – or Helen Dallimore as Kristina Keneally working “9 to 5”.

Costumed in immaculate top hat, white tie and tails, newbie Lena Cruz opens the show with a sizzling “Diversity Tango” to the tune of “Jealousy”, before transforming into Penny Wong to trade barbs in a sauna with Dallimore’s Jacqui Lambie.  Later as Aung Sun Suu Kyi, she sings a thoughtful parody of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, before almost stopping the show as an impatient Kim Jong-Un trying to fathom Simon Burke’s Boris Johnson and Helen Dallimore’s Donald Trump.

Lena Cruz (Penny Wong) - Helen Dallimore (Jackie Lambie) in "Sisters" 

Simon Burke scores with his wicked Alan Jones and as Scott Morrison trying to hose down the enthusiasm of Drew Forsythe’s Clive Palmer.  Even piano man Andrew Worboys gets to strut his stuff as the wise, heard-it-all, piano man tinkling “Thanks for the Memory” as Drew Forsythe’s surprisingly tender turn as  Bob Hawke enjoying catching up with old friends in Heaven.

Simon Burke (Scott Morrison) - Drew Forsythe (Clive Palmer) 

Forsythe also captures belly laughs with his engaging senior, who’s “not looking forward to the future” and who regales his audience with the joys of “back in the day”, and  of course his deliciously cruel incarnation of Pauline Hanson, which one suspects would even elicit a Mona Lisa smile from the lady herself.

Though the announcement that the 2020 edition of The Wharf Revue will be its last has been received with dismay by those who have become used to their annual dose of satirical brilliance, and the fact that the original creatives, Biggins, Forsythe and Scott will re-unite with favourite Mandy Bishop, for just one last Hurrah with the 2020 Wharf Revue, is cause for celebration, this 2019 edition will be remembered as certainly up there among the best.

                                           Photos by Brett Donaldson

This review also appears in Australian Arts Review.