The Wharf Revue: Can of Worms.

The Wharf Revue: Can of Worms.
Wharf Revue, directed by Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe. Musical direction by Phillip Scott. Canberra Theatre from 9–20 November 2021, and touring NSW, VIC, TAS, and NT.

Dismayed reactions were common when the Sydney Theatre Company advertised its final Wharf Revue last year — but the change was in fact merely structural, not fatal.  It’s back!


Most of the faces are familiar, and behind them again lie Mandy Bishop and the Revue’s creators, Biggins, Forsythe, and Scott, in poking (mostly) gentle fun at our political servants.  An unpredictable on-stage mix of live-action cartoon and comic vaudeville enriched by occasional pieces of high-definition video and terrific wigs, the Revue offers us the assurance that Australia is not alone in hosting the loony bin that is modern politics — and that we in the Revue’s audience are not alone in perceiving it.


The Wharf Revue is now paddling under its own steam, and Biggins, Forsythe, and Scott, toured by Soft Tread Enterprises, now manage the whole shebang with video and sound production by David Bergman and lighting by Matt Cox.


Some of the Revue’s characters have become old friends, albeit with new complaints (Jacqui; Kevin; Donald and Ivanka; Scomo; and Pauline, James, and their new friend Mark come to mind).  Others are caricatured with genuine affection (Her Majesty QE II and Jacinda), and others receive a fresh tarnish (Michaelia Cash, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, Joe “which way” Biden, and certain faceless administrators).  The Revue’s topics are right up to date, every actor’s timing is impeccable, and expression and gesture make every ingenious line priceless.


With all this, the Revue’s highly infectious humour and virulent jabs at the most deserving would themselves be entertainment enough for an evening.  But its crowning glory may be its adaptation of suitable songs to naturally express the disbelief, frustrations, and outrage that occasionally overtake us all in the face of utter political insanity.   Actually, the song album from every Wharf Revue would make great listening in itself.  Aside from their skilfully adapted lyrics, the numbers consistently delight through their vocal arrangements and how tightly they’re sung.  In the hands of lesser talents, they could be ordinary.  It’s a bonus that these four seasoned comedians are also great at four-part vocals that offer only pleasant surprises even to the discerning ear.


Better than ever, this year’s revue will leave you equally scandalised and delighted.


John P. Harvey


Images: top [L–R], Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe, Amanda Bishop, and Phillip Scott; below, Phillip Scott, in The Wharf Revue: Can of Worms. Photographer: John P. Harvey




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