Godzone | MTCPhotos - Jeff Busby

Written by Guy Rundle and Max Gillies, and performed by Gillies, Godzone is a welcome burst of political satire, something seen too rarely on the Australian stage. Gillies and Rundle believe that religion is playing an increasing, and increasingly dangerous, part in Australian public life, but this notion is not carried through with much rigour or thoroughness, and the show soon settles down to being a skilled and usually entertaining political variety night. Gillies, with his usual versatility and aided by expert make up, plays - by my reckoning - eleven contemporary politicians and media commentators, and the evening is based on a convention or conference compered by none other than Kevin Rudd. Rudd’s use of weird bureaucratic jargon (“We’re here to optimalise maximativity”), then dropping unconvincingly into surreal, self-conscious Australianisms (“Fair suck of the sav”) is well caught, though little attempt is made to point out his inconsistencies, hypocrisies and slowness to act, the evidence for which is growing. The show seems stronger on breadth than depth.

Several characters (Gordon Brown, Malcolm Turnbull, Noel Pearson, Joe Hockey, Gerard Henderson, Barnaby Joyce) are portrayed on video clips, a device which provides variety and allows for another of Gillies’ quick change routines. A couple of the live sequences, the Christopher Hichens among them, are a little remote or flat, and could be dispensed with, but the general roll call is impressive, and presented in very effective order. Tellingly perhaps, the most successful characterisations are those of people the writers clearly despise, Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott; some of the others, in whom they seem to believe or simply agree with, are more bland, soft-edged, presented without the precision that comes from distaste.

Bolt’s anti-progressive stance and supercilious manner are plainly communicated, as is Abbott’s oafish body language, pre-historic views and insolent delivery.

The set seemed, on opening night, a little under-used, the music could be more featured, and it is somewhat monotonous to have Gillies appear at the microphone stand centre stage; simply moving around sometimes would be better. But while it may lack some atmosphere and depth, the writing and performing achievements of Godzone are impressive, and it remains a substantial, witty and revealing look at our life and times. Highly recommended.

MTC presents
by Max Gillies and Guy Rundle

Venue: MTC Theatre, Sumner
Dates: 5 December 2009 - 17 January 2010
Opening night: Thursday 10 December at 8:00pm
Tickets: From $58.20 (Under 30s – $30)
Bookings: MTC Theatre Box Office 03 8688 0800 or mtc.com.au

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