Three Nights at The Bleeding Heart

Three Nights at the Bleeding HeartIf only The Bleeding Heart were a permanent venue. A subterranean political satire bar would surely be welcome in Canberra – a city where politicians could provide it with no end of material. For now, we’ll have to be content with Shortis & Simpson’s latest production, Three Nights at the Bleeding Heart, which reminds us that there’s plenty to laugh about between the commissions and Question Time mud-slinging.

This cabaret-style show sees satirists Beauty, Rare and Girtie trying to make the most of their last three nights under the spotlight. With John Howard no longer providing fodder, satire seems to be drying up and The Bleeding Heart’s owner, Rich Bastard, is looking to sell. But Rich’s assessment of the potential for post-Howard satire couldn’t be more wrong.

When Howard does make his short appearance, the laughs are all too easy to come by. It’s taken a little more creativity to create caricatures of the new government and their opposition, and the result is all the more enjoyable for it. Each of the show’s four actors has the chance to don the Rudd glasses as well as show off their best impressions of Wayne Swan, Brendan Nelson and Therese Rein (to name a few). Queenie van de Zandt is particularly fun to watch, capturing every Rudd quirk from the concerned frown to that incessant lip-licking. She also nails a spotlight-hungry Julia Gillard, taking the assumptions about her wish to become the first female PM into hilariously over-the-top territory.

The actors fill so many roles that it’s easy to forget there are only ever four people on stage. Ian Blake’s baritone and multi-instrumental prowess enhance the many musical numbers, and his cheeky moments as Brendan Nelson were some of the most giggle-worthy. Moya Simpson is as comfortable playing a shimmying Therese Rein as she is lamenting the closure of her beloved venue, and she knows how to entertain at both extremes. John Shortis’ contemptible Rich Bastard provides a bit of darkness in amongst all the humour, and his turn as Rudd displays some truly toe-curling choreography.

Any opening night jitters were near-impossible to spot, despite the simultaneous challenges of singing on key, dancing in time and making sure the jokes hit their mark. The set and lighting designers have made clever use of the space, allowing us to move easily between backstage dramas and on-stage action. A couple of jokes were lost in sound or microphone glitches, but these were only occasional.

It’s a sign of quality satire when there are jokes for everyone from serial news-avoiders to political aficionados. Three Nights at The Bleeding Heart achieves this balance while also managing to lampoon both sides of the political divide. The company is clearly adaptable too, with a number of the gags up-to-date with this week’s political shenanigans. While a few of the jokes probably could have been taken further, and others cut back a touch, the overall effect was solid, producing a steady stream of chuckles and a few guffaws. By the end of the show it was clear that there’s still plenty of political ridiculousness to fuel many more nights at The Bleeding Heart. It’s a long shot, but I hope Rudd, Nelson and the gang get along to a Shortis & Simpson production at some point – they might just enjoy themselves.  

Three Nights at the Bleeding Heart

Venue: The Street Theatre | Cnr Childers St & University Ave, Canberra City West
Dates: June 19 - 28

Related Articles

The Burlesque Hour... She's Back! | Finucane & Smith The Burlesque Hour... She's Back! | Finucane & Smith
So, is this show an over-hyped Victoria’s Secret runway rip-off or thought-provoking performance art? “When she comes out dressed as a waitress, put this on.” ‘Uh-oh’ was my initial...
Latin! or Tobacco and Boys | Everyman Theatre Latin! or Tobacco and Boys | Everyman Theatre
Written in 1980, Latin! channels Stephen Fry’s much-loved wit and camp cheekiness into the world of Chartham Park Preparatory School for boys. ‘Will there be inkwells?’...

Most read reviews

The Flick | Outback Theatre

Welcome to The Flick, a Worcester, Massachusetts movie theatre, home to one of the last motion picture projectors in the state. The Flick is a dinosaur in the digital age, owned by an unseen proprietor and operated by a sassy projectionist and two general hands who clean and run the box office and the candy concession.

Sami in Paradise | Belvoir

This is black humour indeed, but delivered with an unusually light and zany, almost manic style that is hilarious in moments of high comedy and sharp satire.

The Children | Sydney Theatre Company

A kitchen sinker for the 21st Century, The Children cements playwright Lucy Kirkwood's place in contemporary theatre's pantheon of stylists with form.

Mirth | Luke Leonard

The stories he tells us, at their heart, aren't really funny stories. And yet he has us laughing along with him. He tells us of his broken relationships, job loss, the “cancery” death of his mother, his homelessness... the miserable list goes on.

Private Peaceful | Promise Adelaide

80 minutes long, one man on stage and a rapt audience. His name is Thomas, Tommo, and he’s about to die. That

Most read news

Applications open for CAAP Directors Initiative

Applications are now open for the two-year Contemporary Asian Australian Performance (CAAP) Directors Initiative at Melbourne Theatre Company.

Recipient of the 2018 Kristian Fredrikson Scholarship announced

Sydney based designer Michael Hankin is the 2018 recipient of The Kristian Fredrikson Scholarship For Design in The Performing Arts.

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required