There's something funny going on in Australian politics these days: double-crossing, two-timing, back-stabbing, one-upping, back-pedalling...or is this just a normal day at work for a politician? Showroom Theatre certainly has something to say about the recent machinations of Australia's leaders and they have found plenty to joke about, perhaps in order to stop themselves crying. They've done a comedic double-take on actual events, where only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Showroom Theatre's founding fathers are James Marzec and John McPherson, and they began writing A Raging Election well before the leadership spill and election took place. They only thought they were hypothesizing about such events happening until they both tuned into the news from either side of the planet (Marzec was in London, and McPherson was at home in Perth) and saw that the show they had been working on was becoming a reality. So there was some last-minute scrambling to rewrite numbers and rework scenes until they had the musical that is now up and running for five nights at Subiaco Arts Centre.
A Raging Election makes fun of the media as much as it pokes fun at politics; two-dimensional, cartoonish politicians are puppets at the mercy of self-serving news presenters and corporate interests. The broad strokes used to paint the characters and the milieu give the work a certain naïveté that keeps the satire from biting very deep; however, this might also give it wider appeal to audiences. Indeed, the chief aim from Marzec and McPherson seems to be simply to entertain, which they do with plenty of college humor, a lot of high-energy choreography by Jessica Dunn, and a variety of songs by McPherson and his talented band.
Some performance highlights came from Cal Siberstein as the Backbencher, who schemes and plots without resorting to caricature; Rachael Chamberlain as the Prime Minister, gives just the right mix of impersonation and invention in her character; Grace Cooper as the feisty Jennifer fully commits to her one task of keeping the Opposition Leader (James Palm) in check; and Emily Robb as Linda Sinclair has understated, perfect timing in "Love, Truth, and Mixed Messages."
The set, designed by Reece Scott, was visually striking, although the news desk was placed quite far upstage in order to leave room for the frequent dance numbers. Joshua Veitch's lighting design was just right; firstly, it did its job in making sure we could see everyone's faces, and secondly, it added depth and colour to scenes that called for something extra flashy.
This is Showroom's third production and its second musical, although Marzec, McPherson and Dunn have collaborated to produce original works for many years prior to their founding this company. They have proven that they have the drive, skills and talent to produce consistently popular shows, so it will be interesting to see if they'll continue with the same solid formula or shake things up a bit for their next production.
Showroom Theatre presents
A Raging Election
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre, WA
Dates: 22 – 26 October, 2013
Tickets: $25.00 – $30.20