Although Drew Forsythe is the only one of the original Wharf Revue trio performing in the 2019 edition of The Wharf Revue, entitled cheekily, Unredacted, Jonathan Biggins and Phillip Scott were certainly involved in its creation, as writers, along with Drew Forsythe. Biggins and Forsythe co-directed this edition, with Lena Cruz the only new addition to the list of performers – Helen Dallimore, Simon Burke and Andrew Worboys – all veterans of previous editions.
Performed on an attractive, versatile setting, designed by Charles Davis, around a large screen showing hilarious mini-movies which cover lightning costume changes, the 2019 edition has lost none of its sting, or its ability to leave audiences gasping with laughter at its rapier sharp political satire and outrageous parodies of popular musicals.
Think Drew Forsythe straddling a chair as Pauline Hanson as Sally Bowles in Cabaret singing Maybe This Time – or Simon Burke as Scott Morrison as Harold Hill in The Music Man punching out a tongue-twisting parody of Trouble re-imagined as Canberra Bubble – or Helen Dallimore as Kristina Keneally working 9 to 5.
Costumed in immaculate top hat, white tie and tails, newbie Lena Cruz opens the show with a sizzling Diversity Tango to the tune of Jealousy, before transforming into Penny Wong to trade barbs in a sauna with Dallimore’s Jacqui Lambie. Later as Aung San Suu Kyi, she sings a thoughtful parody of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, before almost stopping the show as an impatient Kim Jong-Un trying to fathom Simon Burke’s Boris Johnson and Helen Dallimore’s Donald Trump.
Simon Burke scores with his wicked Alan Jones and as Scott Morrison trying to hose down the enthusiasm of Drew Forsythe’s Clive Palmer. Even piano man Andrew Worboys gets to strut his stuff as the wise, heard-it-all, piano man tinkling Thanks for the Memory as Drew Forsythe’s surprisingly tender turn as Bob Hawke enjoying catching up with old friends in Heaven.
Forsythe also captures belly laughs with his engaging senior, who’s “not looking forward to the future” and who regales his audience with the joys of “back in the day”, and of course his deliciously cruel incarnation of Pauline Hanson, which one suspects would even elicit a Mona Lisa smile from the lady herself.
Though the announcement that the 2020 edition of The Wharf Revue will be its last has been received with dismay by those who have become used to their annual dose of satirical brilliance, and the fact that the original creatives, Biggins, Forsythe and Scott will re-unite with favourite Mandy Bishop, for just one last Hurrah, is cause for celebration, this 2019 edition will be remembered as certainly up there among the best.
The Wharf Revue 2019 – UNR-DACT-R
Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Tuesday 12 November 2019 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 23 November 2019
Following its Canberra season, The Wharf Revue will be presented at the Orange Civic Theatre (26 – 27 November); Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre (30 November); and the Whitehorse Centre, Nunawading (5 – 7 December). For more information, visit: www.sydneytheatre.com.au for details.
Image: The Wharf Revue – photo by Brett Boardman
Review: Bill Stephens OAM