Wharf Theatre, October 23
Even the ghost of Gough would concede one advantage of the Tories being in power: better fodder for the annual Wharf Revue. Labor’s in-fighting and ineptitude just doesn’t cut it by comparison with the grotesques of the Liberal front bench and their delightfully poisonous ideas. In fact Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott could lift the title for this year’s show straight from our noble leader’s lips: Open For Business.
This year was Forsythe’s turn for a performing sabbatical, but he did front up on screen as Bronwyn Bishop, nominally Madam Speaker, but really the Minister for Ejecting Labor. The other change was a new cast member, Douglas Hansell. Wharf Revue debutants are greeted with similar suspicion to new members of the Rolling Stones, but Hansell silenced sceptics with his hysterical – in both senses – Christopher (Robin) Pyne in a nightcap saying his prayers.
Every year Amanda Bishop seems an ever more remarkable singer, and here she stormed through a suitably Wagnerian depiction of Peta Credlin, and gave us the blinkered Miranda Devine at her most sultry. Sophie Mirabella may be sadly be lost to public life, but Bishop had her dancing her socks off in Cory Bernardi’s Beach Party, a ’60s-style shindig for the extreme right of the party, if that is not a tautology.
Speaking of dancing, Biggins’ hip hop routine as Bob Brown (to Bishop’s Christine Milne) was a new feather in his cap (if the Greens are allowed to put feathers in their caps). Scott (at the piano) gave us George Brandis talking up the merits of bigotry, and The Canberra Tales and Crazy Joe’s Asset Sale maintained the long tradition of the show having a couple of weak links.
Biggins was a titanic Clive Palmer coaching his witless senators, and he brilliantly reprised his impression of Keating (to Bishop’s less effective Gillard). He also nailed Abbott better than anyone before in a sketch about Shorten – which only served to confirm that these Labor types aren’t that funny.
Until December 20.