Friday, October 27, 2023



Pride in Prejudice. The Wharf Revue. 

Created and written by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Philip Scott. Performed by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsyth, David Whitney and Mandy Bishop with Andrew Worboys on piano. The Playhouse. Canberra Theatre Centre. October 27- November 5 2023. Bookings  or 02 6275 2700

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

David Whitney as Peter Dutton. Jonathan Biggins as Anthony Albanese
Mandy Bishop as Tanya Plibersek and Drew Forsyth as Richard Marles

The only territory to vote an overwhelming yes in the Referendum on an indigenous voice to parliament gave this year’s Wharf Revue a resounding yes at last night’s opening of Pride in Prejudice. Australia’s legendary political satirists have lost none of their biting wit, hilarious hard hitting swipes and jibes while heaping ridicule and good humour on pollies, sacred cows and high flying institutions and corporations. In fact, the media release say it all:  “With no jokes written by ChatGPT and no sketches outsourced to PWC. Completely gluten-free, suitable for the lactose intolerant and no animals were harmed during the production process. 

** Disclaimer. Reputation may be questioned, political careers damaged and some sacred cows slaughtered. Due to public demand full frontal nudity will not be included. Any similarity to public figures living or dead is purely intentional.

The Wharf Revue has again come home to its natural habitat. Canberra audiences revel in the revue’s familiarity. There are old favourites like a divine visitation by Drew Forsyth’s late monarch. Jonathn Biggins’s much derided Trump is an escaped felon, escaping through the Everglades with his  shady ally Giuliani (David Whitney) Newcomer Whitney captures Peter Dutton’s negativity with perfectly timed opposition..Mandy Bishop is the chameleon of brilliant impersonation, Whether she is Jacqui Lambie hurling the hard truths with Whitney’s David Pocock on a Playschool segment or the people’s princess or Sarah Hanson Young in full flight among the greenery in Sherwood Forest or Tanya Plibersek there is no one whom Bishop can’t capture in an instant.  Her rendition of their version of Ladies who lunch by Stephen Sondheim would have Sondheim applauding in the aisles. In fact satirical lyrics and popular musical theatre tunes are in perfect pitch in this revue. Forsyth, Biggins and Scott have honed their songwriting skills to pure perfection. The lyrics are witty with a sting and nobody escapes their precise aim. In Pride in Prejudice sense and sensibility battle dullard stupidity. The Wharf Revue team are unabashedly partisan and this year’s revue clearly demonstrates where their allegiances lie.

But it is not all smiles and laughter. In an operatic spoof on Putin’s Russia a Russian soldier asks “Why are we laughing. It’s not intrinsically funny.”  I found it very difficult to laugh at Groucho Marx (Forsyth) singing Lidia with an aggressive image on the screen of Lidia Thorpe with her arm upheld and in a Vote No t shirt. To the tune of Lost Horizon the team sing a sombre requiem to the loss of the Yes vote. It is a poignant reminder that comedy and tragedy are the two faces of the drama. Beyond the clever lyrics, the hilarious sketches, the stunning performances however much one may laugh at the absurd politicians,  the wealthy industrialists, the American politics and Australia’s national airline there is a talent that can cut through the satire and reveal a deeper meaning within. This is the skill of satirists who have honed and perfected the art of lampoonery and social commentary. Pride in Prejudice is a cautionary revue not to be missed.

Photos by Vishal Pandey