By Arne Sjostedt
The Wharf Review
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre, 12 November 2019 (on until 23 November)
Political satire and wide lens social commentary, pulling some big names from the national and international political landscape and tacking the mickey in a wonderfully Australian fashion, the Wharf Review’s 2019 show inspired a general sense of bubbly enjoyment and enlivened satisfaction.
In the well-trodden tradition of review comedy, this 90 minutes of theatre from a team of performers who will be leaving us with their last ever Wharf Review next year, did not let the energy fall flat.
It's worth watching if only to see Simon Burke’s version of Scott Morrison dissect the Coalition’s 2019 election victory, and hand the credit to God.
Incredible vocalists, wonderfully tight movement, so comfortable on stage that you felt as if you were watching your fancy Nan do the dishes while she told you a story, with a little song and dance number thrown in for good times — this was a glossy, super together, hyper-real theatre experience for the politically aware and not-so-aware alike.
Whether taking a gorgeous stab at our red-haired queen of the Queenslanders, paying respects to Bob Hawke, cutting down poppies or camping up Boris Johnson as he said a pointed look at me now, everything about this show said show business. All presented on a set that screamed wow.
Yes, there are minor potential problems with the way they caricatured female and/or Asian figures (Jackie Jacqui, Penny Wong, Kim Jong-un). Yet, like celebrating the green and gold by chopping leeks onto your corn flakes, this was about the comedy and using satire to flip crude social and political mores on their head. With this in mind, the review walked the representational line carefully, self-consciously and landed almost unscathed at the end of the party without appearing to have leant too heavily on easy, old-fashioned gender and racial tropes that might leave some feeling uncomfortable.
And left the audience in a far better mood than they were when they came.
The Wharf Review is at Canberra Theatre Centre until 23 November 2019. Details at canberratheatrecentre.com.au