The Sydney Theatre Company brings you The Wharf Revue: Back to Bite You, returning for its sixteenth year of political commentary.
The opening scenes take us to Ancient Rome and the script is as clever as it is witty. The team behind the Wharf Revue chose the perfect setting to make light of this year’s pageantry of politics where Australian government is plagued by leadership woes and Ceaser like treachery. With poignant references to slave sex marriage and the new guy, Jesus, who gave a TED talk for 3 hours without any PowerPoint slides all creates a seamless setting. The puns are perfectly placed and the names given to our parliamentarians are hilarious. My favourite goes to ‘Hinchicus’, clad in gladiator leather and clutching a sword and shield, he is perfect in his representation of Derryn Hinch the television and radio personality come Australian Senator.
This year’s standout performances were Katrina Retallick and Jonathan Biggins. Retallick is the first voice you hear as she sings her introduction beautifully. Her portrayals as Hillary Clinton, Julia Bishop and Jacqui Lambie, to name a few, prove her to be a chameleon on stage. She takes on each role with both strength of character and comic timing.
Biggins takes on a Tony Abbott in an amazing burlesque routine that will have you rolling in the isles. He captures everything about Tony in that moment and the tease of his potential return to power. The ridiculous, the absurd, and even the Abbott lizard tongue manoeuvre gets a moment to shine. Biggins also steals the night later as he plays American military man Dick Tingle delivering a marvellous monologue packed with puns and pulls no punches on the politics and madness that is the American military’s view of the Middle East. The script is sharp and Biggins' delivery is exceptional.
The creators of the Wharf Revie,w Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott are not new to this genre of performance. This year they open big and hook you in and even if your knowledge of politics is thin you can still find humour in clever script writing. However they lose traction about half way, especially as the focus shifts to the current American Presidential elections. With the portrayals of American politicians Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and the easy to mock Donald Trump the mood shifts from satire to surface imitation
The 2016 Wharf Revue: Back to Bite You, certainly starts with its teeth bared and jaws readying to chomp into the world of our Great Leaders however its bark is worse than its bite and after a while the bark tends to become just familiar noise.
The Wharf Revue 2016
Back to Bite You
by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott
Venue: Riverside Theatres | corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta, NSW
Date: 31 August 2016