Sydney’s the Wharf Revue has been put on yearly since 1999, and satirizes the people and events of the past year. It’s a simple concept - take the politicians, religions and outrageous celebrities that have most been in the spotlight this past year and fashion a series of sketches and musical pieces around the designated targets shortcomings and inadequacies.
This year revue has mostly been centred around the election and the change in Australian politics, with sketches about the last days of John Winston Howard, Kevin Rudd and his ALP scout troop and in a sly nod to our southern neighbours, New Zealand’s Helen Clark jazz version of Take Five. Musical numbers based on Vladmir Putin (Putin on the Ritz) and China (The Glorious People’s Republic of China) broadens the revue to give an insight into world politics.
Beware of the Dogma is written by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott and performed by the three with Valerie Bader. They are all exceptionally strong and versatile performers, practising the art of sketch comedy to perfection. Unfortunately sketch comedy as a form, remains locked in that same knowing “nudge-nudge wink-wink” style of performance that seems very dated now, and at times this style wears thin and ironically during the performance becomes a parody of itself. It would be wonderful to see these performers experiment a little more with their format to really challenge the audience and themselves as they clearly have the skills for it.
The strongest pieces are the musical numbers with Phillip Scott’s musical direction sitting at the core of the revue, allowing the other performers to undergo quick changes and this keeping the proceedings moving. Jonathan Biggins’ Paul Keating reminds us how vitriolic the ex-PM could be and the sketch about the Democrats, while funny also has us lamenting that political parties slide into obscurity.
Though by far the most powerful sketch was the closer, the Fable of Prosperity’s Child, which was not only funny but shined a light back on the audience, highlighting our own fears and hypocrisies, creating wonderful satire, and showing the performers at their best. A little more of this type of powerful humour would have elevated the show from merely a good night out, to something truly memorable, but perhaps that’s asking a bit too much. After all, you will laugh loudly at Beware of the Dogma and in the end that’s all that really matters.
Clocktower Centre and Sydney Theatre Company present
The Wharf Revue: Beware of the Dogma
By Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott
Venue: Clocktower Centre | 750 Mt Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds
Date/Time: Wednesday 5 March at 8pm
Bookings/Info: 9243 9191 | www.clocktowercentre.com.au