York Theatre, November 10
I wonder if pollies are afflicted with deprivation syndrome when they’re ignored by The Wharf Revue. Does Pauline Hanson hear she was surplus to requirements this year, and need a beer, a Bex and a good lie down? Did Tony Burke – again braving the riff-riff in the audience – feel cheated not to see himself mocked on stage? I know feeling cheated is tricky if one’s tickets are free, but we critics do it with ease.
Were The Wharf Revue a TV sitcom, it would have gone on for a decade, becoming a lifestyle accessory as much as a source of mirth. Not that this 24th edition was bereft of giggles. At one point I feared my face might crack, having gone too long without laughing so much in one night. Yet, in the time-honoured way of judging TWR (created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phil Scott, with Andrew Worboys as musical director), the 24th edition was not up to the 23rd.
To the highlights, then. Although the cast members have excelled in countless roles across the years, I doubt they’ve collectively done better than in their episode of The Crown. Here was Jonathan Biggins playing Charles (Rex Everything) with one hand in his jacket pocket, the voice inch-perfect and the facial expression as bored as a dog left home all day. Poof! Mummy (Drew Forsythe) appears, and explains that he’s dreaming her, which seems to stretch his intellect, but not his credulity. “Heaven”, she tells Charles, “is full of so many people one hoped to never see again.” He’s rather more alarmed to be joined by his first wife, probably because Mandy Bishop assumes Di’s face, voice, hair and demure body language so completely. Finally in stomps guest star David Whitney (Phil Scott taking a year off from performing) as pompous, irascible daddy. When mummy asks her son if he enjoyed his coronation, it turns out he jolly well didn’t: “The last time a chap smeared me in oil behind a screen was in boarding school!”
Other gems included Trump and Guiliani escaping from jail, The Bonnets (a Pride and Prejudice spoof, with Bishop a dashing Mr Darcy), and a hilarious serve for those eternally disgruntled French demonstrators. But much of the domestic political satire was blunt or astray, even with a stationary target like Dutton.
Until December 17.