“WE can’t wait to get to Canberra,” actor Drew Forsythe enthusiastically tells “CityNews”. “Apart from the fact that The Playhouse is the best theatre in the country, it’s a wonderful audience.”Yes, it’s the notorious Wharf Revue, this year entitled “Whoops!”
The show has already played Parramatta, Casula and Wollongong, so Forsythe figures it’ll be “well and truly run in” by the time it gets here.
This year “they” will be regulars Amanda Bishop, Jonathan Biggins and Forsythe, with Simon Burke and pianist Andrew Worboys replacing Phil Scott, who’s been having a year off overseas.
“We did speak to the Canberra Theatre people very early in the year,” Forsythe says, “but I suggested a lot of things we never got round to doing.”
Initially, they thought of setting the whole revue in the hell of a perpetual election cycle, he says, “but when Julia Gillard called an election October 14, that knocked the idea on the head, so we went for the Theatre of the Absurd, which left itself open to a lot of different scenarios.”
Forsythe likes going back to his classical theatre training when writing scripts. Who, for instance could forget his representation of Rupert Murdoch as King Lear a couple of years ago?
Unrepentant, he’s turned his attention in 2013 to “Hamlet” or more specifically “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”. He and Biggins are the two hapless courtiers trying to work out what’s going on. Bill Shorten is cast as the melancholy Dane, Julia Gillard the demented Ophelia singing the habanera from “Carmen” and Alan Jones a venomous Polonius. The Player King acts out “the murder of political dignity”.
Slightly less classical is a “Turn back the Boats” version of “Master and Commander”, with Scott Morrison as the master and The Asylum Seekers headed up by Judith Durham and Athol Guy.
The revue begins with “The Abbott Family”. And then there’s a short burst, “in full Restoration-era drag”, showing Bronwyn and Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne and Eric Abetz celebrating “the Restoration of the Liberals”.
Newcomer Worboys gets a gig as the Dalai Lama, and there’s a light-hearted Arab Spring piece for good measure.
Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer address the world from the bow of the Titanic and manage to sink it.
The team will finish up looking at the Labor Party through the eyes of disaffected Labor voter Dorothy, while Bob Carr as the Straw Man, Paul Keating as the Tin Man and Kim Beazley as the Cowardly Lion go off on an adventure trying to meet The Wizard, Bob Hawke.
As Forsythe says, in the understatement of the interview, “our show is built for the kind of people who live and work in Canberra”.
“Whoops!” the Wharf Revue at the Playhouse, October 15 to 19, bookings to 6276 2700 or canberratheatrecentre.com.au
Top image: Drew Forsythe and Amanda Bishop in The Wharf Revue’s “Whoops!” Photo by Tracey Schramm