The Reservoir Room, June 27
If The Wharf Revue goes ahead this October, it will be the finale of the show that, since 2000, has had politicians wondering why they bother to fund the arts. The poor sods donate great wads of our money, and in return are rendered in a form that’s only of use on the garden. The fallacy, of course, is that, a few close friends apart, there are no great wads: look at the leaky life buoy belatedly and reluctantly thrown to the arts last week. The term “sink without a trace” springs to mind.
Let’s just quietly pray we do get one last shot of the chemistry and peppy wit of Phil Scott, Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe at their best. Here they offered a lump of a primordial musical: initially a smelly concoction of mud, slime and Sondheim, that then peered out from the cave towards humanity’s triumphant future, replete with colonic irrigations and Singapore slings.
This edition of the Reservoir Room series (beamed live from Paddington Town Hall each Friday and Saturday night) was not an interim viral version of the revue, but pianist/writer/composer/singer/actor (in some order) Phil Scott corralling some friends into a cabaret (possibly at gunpoint). Among them was the revue’s most frequent leading lady, Amanda Bishop, who trotted out Mary Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim’s always entertaining The Boy From… (with apologies to Antonio Carlos Jobim). Biggins helped Scott insert a stiletto between the state government’s second and third ribs over its attempts to run what it amusingly calls a public transport system, Scott’s jazz-bassist brother, Craig, joined for a quick bolt across Bach, Bizet and Mozart, and dashing trumpeter James Sarno hopped aboard a galloping Caravan.
On his lonesome to begin and end, Scott told a funny tale of working with the formidable Bea Arthur in Edinburgh, and closed with his impression of The Entertainer played by a pianist with polyester ears. He also had singer and Reservoir Room organiser Catherine Alcorn on hand for two numbers, including teaching Phil Collins’ usually frightful In the Air Tonight to behave as a polite piece of lounge jazz.
Let’s hope The Wharf Revue gets to fire its farewell salvo, and meanwhile The Reservoir Room offers startlingly high production values in these straitened times.