Friday, 3 October 2014

Warf Revue - Open For Business, Canberra Theatre

The Wharf revue has, if I've read correctly, had thirteen installments by now. And this is the first one I've seen. A series of topical songs and sketches performed by a team of four, it's reasonably fast, snappy satire allowing us to giggle at the foibles of the rich and powerful. Or at least politicians.

This year, as has been the case for a few years by now, one of the performers (Drew Forsythe) is sitting out (his role in "Strictly Ballroom The Musical" taking precedence), though he's still credited as a writer and appears in a few pre-filmed video inserts (introducing the show as a sternly straight-faced Brownyn Bishop and later appearing as a distincltly Montgomery Burns-ish Rupert Murdoch). And onstage the highlights tend to emerge from Jonathan Biggins (who gets a chance to show off one of my favourite physical features, comedy legs, in a pair of very short shorts as Bob Brown in a Greens-style-funk-off) and Amanda Bishop who shows off a powerful set of lungs in a range of operatic-leaning numbers (in particular, a wild-haired Peter Credlin) as well as being a disturbingly sexy Miranda Devine. Biggins and Bishop also score in a Paul Keating/Julia Gillard duet that may be the highlight of the evening (the comedy well of imitation Paul Keating insults may, in fact, be inexhaustible, and, yes, it is absolutely playing to the lefty luvvies of the audience to have these two onstage, but, well, I am a leftie luvvie so why should I complain).

It could be argued, of course, that political satire is astonishingly redundant in a country that has got to the point where the Palmer United Party has managed to get several members elected. And to a certain extent, these are fish being shot in a barrel. The opening few numbers take a while to really land (Phillip Scott's opening song, the Corey Bernardi song and the "Canberra tales" segment all lack a slight "zip"), and, indeed, Scott generally scores better as a sideline presence adding occasional zingers and as a vituoso piano accompanist rather than as a performer in the centre of sketches. Newcomer to the Revue Douglas Hansell scores with a extrordinarily twattish Christopher Pyne (almost as twattish as the actual Christopher Pyne) and a stick-up-the-butt Scott Morrison, but elsewhere is more functionally good rather than extraordinary. It also feels like the closing number is a tad perfunctory rather than something that really wraps up the evening enthusiastically.

So ... this is uneven, but the highlights are indeed pretty darn good.

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