Review / An ‘unmissable’ night of political satire

theatre / “Déjà Revue”, The Wharf Review, Sydney Theatre Company, at The Canberra Theatre, October 23 to November 3. Reviewed by JOE WOODWARD

Rachael Beck, left, and Douglas Hansell as Principal Boy, Malcolm Turnbull and Prince Charmless, Peter Dutton. Photo by Brett Boardman

I DON’T think I have laughed so much in a theatre for at least twenty years. “The Wharf” team are back with renewed vitality, biting humour and sharpened lampooning of political masters.

The performance team of Rachael Beck, Jonathan Biggins, Simon Burke, Douglas Hansell and Andrew Worboys were exceptional in their timed delivery of acidic text and nuanced body language to portray an array of characters from the current political scene.

Biggins’ portrayal of a former political heavy weight, Paul Keating, was perhaps the comic highlight of the evening. While each of his characters were sharply drawn, he seemed to have a particular comic affinity with the former Prime Minister.

Beginning with a politically incorrect panto, the evening got off to a raucous start with Biggins’ over-the-top warming up of the audience. In true panto spirit, the lead character of Cinderella, Malcolm Turnbull, was played by a female. Rachael Beck was hilarious in the role. Her later characterisations, including Melania Trump, were characterised by a strong singing voice and contrasting physical presentations.

Simon Burke added touches of brilliance throughout the evening. However, his portrayal of the queen was imbued with a degree of pathos in contrast with Biggins’ Trump. The scene with the queen in her garden and Trump walking in front of her was both darkly humorous while also sharing a moment of introspection. It was still funny while providing considerable contrast.

Douglas Hansell as Barnaby Joyce. Photo Brett Boardman

Douglas Hansell surprised me when making his first appearance as the dark force of evil with a “potato head”. His physicality was another rejuvenating aspect of this iconic production.

Andrew Worboys provided the musical shape to the production replacing the ageless Phillip Scott. The combination of his innovations and the new cast members made for a most satisfying comic performance of Biggins and Forsythe’s script.

An hour and a half of up-to-date satire is bound to have a few lagging or less successful scenes. Perhaps it could be argued that the show’s structure lacked some rhythmic variations towards the end of the second act. I’m not so sure. I think the audience enjoyed the whole night.

If you can afford it and would like a night of fun and intelligent satire, you shouldn’t miss “The Wharf Revue” 2018.

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