Co-Directed by Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe
Musical Direction by Phillip Scott – Lighting Design by
Video Design by Todd Abbott – Costume design by Hazel and
Performed by Jonathan Biggins, Phillip Scott, Drew
Forsythe and Mandy Bishop
Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse, 25th
October to 5th November.
Premiere performance reviewed by Bill Stephens
|Phillip Scott - Mandy Bishop - Jonathan Biggins - Drew Forsythe
as Greens Wiggles in "Looking for Albanese"
The change of government has provided the impetus for the brilliant Wharf Revue team to press the “refresh” button and introduce a whole new cast of characters for their newest revue, “Looking for Albanese”, which premiered in the Canberra Theatre Centre Playhouse prior to its season at the Seymour Centre in Sydney.
The writing is as sharp, incisive and cheeky as ever, but
as always, so much of the fun is recognising familiar identities among the
clever impersonations offered by this quartet of masters of the art of
“Looking for Albanese” opens with Biggins, Scott, Forsythe and Bishop, in
the guise of four open-mouthed fairground clowns singing, “Happy Days are Here
Again” to welcome the change of government. They quickly transform into a
troupe of Greens Wiggles, during which they identified each other. “How else
would you know who we are?”
|Mandy Bishop as Katy Gallagher in "Looking for Albanese"
This was a neat way of introducing some of the lesser
known politicians about to feel the sting of their barbs. Among the first was Lidia
Thorpe introduced to the tune of “Hot Potato”. Other newbies included Katy Gallagher,
brilliantly portrayed by chameleon, Mandy Bishop who delivered Gallagher’s
monologue on financial matters in Shakespearean verse. Later Bishop scored
again with her turn as Allegra Spender, glamorous in a Carla Zampatti suit, performing
a knowing “Big Spender”.
Phillip Scott delighted a Boris Johnson performing a
jaunty Corona Virus Song, and Jonathan Biggins scored firstly as a crusading Peta
Credlin, then later as King Charles, while Drew Forsythe charmed with his turn
as Joe Biden in lounge-singer mode.
|Phillip Scott (Craig Kelly) - Jonathan Biggins (Clive Palmer) - Mandy Bishop (Albo as Alice)
"Albo in Wonderland"
However, as the title suggests, it is the newly crowned
Prime Minister who enjoyed the most attention. In “Albo in Wonderland” Mandy
Bishop plays the Prime Minister, while Biggins and Scott interpret Craig Kelly
and Clive Palmer as Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum, and Drew Forsythe becomes the
Mad Katter. Later Forsythe portrays Albanese projected into 2050, having won 6
elections, refusing to recognise the Grim Reaper played by Biggins.
|Drew Forsythe as Pauline Hanson in "Looking for Albanese"
Joyfully many of the familiar favourites return including
Forsythe’s marvellous Pauline Hanson spouting a whole new lexicon of
malapropisms, and Bishop’s Jackie Lambie discovering the Tamworth Music
|Mandy Bishop (Julia Gillard) - Jonathan Biggins (Paul Keating) - Phillip Scott (Kevin Rudd)
"Looking for Albanese"
Among many highlights is a scene in which the three Labor
Prime Ministers portrayed by Biggins (Paul Keating), Bishop (Julia Gilliard)
and Scott (Kevin Rudd) meet at the National conference to trade insults; and
the almost traditional musical finale , “Inner West Side Story” which commences
with “When You’re in Debt”.
A song in which Drew Forsythe, as a ghostly veteran
returning from the Afghanistan war, sings of the effects on the participants of
such wars provides a thoughtful moment among all the hilarity.
Throughout, excellent costuming and hilarious
interpolated video segments based around “You Can’t Ask That”, compliment the
outstanding performances, ensuring that “Looking for Albanese” will take its
place as another unmissable Wharf Revue classic.
Images by Vishal Pandey
This review also published in AUSTRALIAN ARTS REVIEW. www.artsreview.com.au