SHORTIS and Simpson’s ambitious “Prime Time” presented songs about Australia’s 29 Prime Ministers
The show appeared confused as to whether it was satirical cabaret or epic musical theatre. The laughs were too sparsely spread for it to be a comedy. There were moments of poignancy, but the show’s overall themes were underdeveloped and sometimes confusing.
Staging was a strong point, with projection of historical footage and comic choreography of the Worldly Goods Choir both used to good effect.
Composer and pianist, John Shortis and vocalist Moya Simpson were joined by Kate Hosking on double bass and Nic Byrne on keyboards. Hosking and Byrne also carried a contemporary narrative of a couple whose marriage is founded on an agreement to accept their political differences. Their story centred around a visit to the Museum of Australian Democracy and was intended as a framework for the songs. They were also the singing voices of various political figures.
Hosking was absolutely outstanding and engaging, but her on-stage spouse was no match for her formidable prowess as an actor, singer and musician. In contrast to Hosking’s and Byrne’s contemporary, casual look, Shortis and Simpson were costumed in cabaret style. Shortis was the backbone of the band, while Simpson was its face and choir leader.
The show-stopper was a yodeling, line-dancing duet between Simpson and Hosking about Australia going, “all the way with LBJ”. Another highlight was the Worldly Goods Choir flocking like human sheep during the Menzies years.