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Canberra Today 20°/23° | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Wharf Review oozes incisive satire

The Wharfies, from left, Scott, Forsythe, Biggins and Bishop. Photo Brett Boardman

Revue / “The Wharf Revue, “Can of Worms” at Canberra Theatre, until November 20. Reviewed by JOE WOODWARD

“THE Wharf Revue”, with its simple format and exquisite writing, is really a one-of-a-kind variety satirical show with its roots in the past.

It keeps to its sketch format with comedy and parody songs while commenting on political issues and key figures of the time. While there are quite a number of satirists working in comedy fields in Australia, “The Wharf Revue” is distinguished by its continuous sketches and bold characterisations that require an extraordinary depth of acting skills and singing abilities.

“Can of Worms” starts with a tribute to Australia’s continuous isolationist thinking and the fear of the other.

The show targets the absurdities and foibles associated with particular political figures such as Donald Trump, Scott Morrison, Pauline Hanson, Kevin Rudd, Jacqui Lambie, Mark Latham and others. Each is presented with considerable depth. Drew Forsythe’s Pauline Hanson is becoming as detailed as Jonathan Biggins’ Paul Keating from previous productions.

Mandy Bishop’s Jacqui Lambie is a show-stopper. Phillip Scott’s Kevin Rudd is simply too close and brings the house down with laughter and that quiet sniggering the audience indulges with embarrassing recognition. Jonathan Biggins brings utter absurdity to Donald Trump making an “Ubu Roi” intensity mixed with song and dance.

The satire is well-targeted; though some of the text misses its mark on occasion. One wonders if it will still be refined for future seasons in other states.

Canberra has become accustomed to viewing “The Wharf Revue” as it has been tested and performed elsewhere; this time we are witness to the beginning of its run, however, we are still witness to some of the best and most incisive satirical performances produced in Australia.

The cast are up there with Max Gillies, Gerry Connolly, Graham Kennedy and The Mavis Bramston Show while extending satire into timely poignancy on occasions. Their work is never neutral and this can offend. Their willingness to be biased and offensive is one of their strengths.

If you can afford the ticket, the show is well worth it. Unfortunately, we must wonder how such sharp use of words can be brought to those who can’t afford the price. Television would probably ban the show; making it ironical that only an elite audience can really enjoy the excess that is “The Wharf Revue”.



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