Wednesday, October 26, 2022


 Co-Directed by Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe

Musical Direction by Phillip Scott – Lighting Design by Matt Cox

Video Design by Todd Abbott – Costume design by Hazel and Scott Fisher.

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 political satire. 

“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 Festival.

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.