The Wharf Revue

by | Feb 20, 2024

 

 By Ellis Koch

 The Wharf Revue has a solid history. Twenty-four years running in fact and, one hopes, many more years to come.  With such a long history it is no wonder that The Wharf Revue can deliver such a polished and slick product – political satire that is lighthearted, clever, at times scathing but always hilarious in content and sharp in execution.  The writing from Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott tackles national and international political events across a broad range of content mixing political concern with constant nods to great shows, writers and performers past and present – Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein (South Pacific) a bit of Groucho Marx . . . Play School . . . Indeed, each sketch is cleverly written and the lyrical re-writes of songs from musicals are very clever.  Each performer is incredible, stunningly so. Their characterisations are absolutely on point and their excellent performances imbue each piece with the necessary energy to carry audience engagement from one sketch and song to the next without losing momentum – something rather critical to pull off when engaging in dry and somewhat distasteful topics such as Robodebt, referendums and the senate.  Of course, this seamless experience of live sketch, song and video keeps pace not just due to the performers but also due to the work of Biggins and Forsythe who also serve as the directors for the show. The costumes are all well designed and the costume changes are blisteringly fast – all masked wonderfully by a tight running order of sketches and video that keeps the audience riveted to the stage. There is a fair amount of content and neither Left nor Right are spared as the show lampoons home-grown pollies like Dutton, Albanese, Thorpe and Lambie – to name just a few – and also international political figures like Trump, Biden, Giuliani and Putin.

There are laughs aplenty throughout – of particular note is the wonderful duet “In The Land of Mar-a-Lago” between Trump and Giuliani (Biggins and Forsythe), David Whitney’s Peter Dutton and practically everything that actor Mandy Bishop does on stage (her range of characterisation and voice work is astounding) – though I cannot state enough how fantastic each actor is in their portrayal of all of the well-known figures contained within the 90 minute run time.  Another stellar highlight is a Russian opera spoof – incredible convincing in its presentation.  Musical director Andrew Worboys brings stylish musical chops to the performance and showcases a talent for playing different musical genres and the costume design by Hazel and Scott Fisher is marvellous and on point in every sketch.

This is some of the finest sketch comedy you will see in Australia – perhaps the finest.  Written by veterans who have honed their craft the material is masterfully brought to life by incredible talent.  Regardless of political persuasion or even if you find yourself unengaged with the modern political scene there is something within The Wharf Revue to tickle the fancy of everybody.

Image: Vishal Pandey

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