Review: THE WHARF REVUE – PRIDE IN PREJUDICE at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre

Political satire at its best.

By: Apr. 08, 2024
Review: THE WHARF REVUE – PRIDE IN PREJUDICE at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre
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Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Monday 8th April 2024.

The Wharf Revue has become an Australian institution, with more than two decades of hilarious history to its credit. Nobody lampoons Australia’s politicians and major international figures better than these ‘Wharfies’, and we Aussies love to see our politicians held up for satirical scrutiny.

Written by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe, and Phillip Scott, and co-directed and performed by Biggins and Forsythe, the others in the cast are Mandy Bishop, and David Whitney, with musical director, Michael Tyack, at the piano.

It opened with a take on Jane Austen’s fictional family, renamed The Bonnets, everybody cross-dressing as Mrs. Bonnet and her two daughters, visited by Mr. Darcy, taking Pride in their Prejudices. Being wildly politically incorrect is a hallmark of these revues. Moving on, they cleverly combined Avenue Q and ABC television’s Q&A, using reworded songs from the musical, and puppets, to become Avenue Q&A, poking fun at the show, and the first tilt at our politicians.

French Demonstrators were lampooned for protesting against anything and everything at the drop of a hat, and Groucho Marx appeared singing a revamped version of Lidia, the Tattooed Lady, unmercifully sending up Lidia Thorpe, and the very mobile robot behind the Robodebt disaster put in an appearance. Trump and Giuliani certainly would not have enjoyed the sketch of them escaping from prison, but the audience loved it. In fairness, Joe Biden didn’t escape unscathed. Let’s face it, everybody loved the lampooning of Australia’s ‘Doctor NO!’, the ever-negative leader of what is left of the LNP Opposition party, Peter Dutton.

Even the children’s television favourite, Play School, was drawn into service, with Mandy Bishop as Jacqui Lambie and David Whitney as David Pocock explaining our political system. The English Royals, past and present, didn’t escape, and nor did Putin, the subject of a Russian opera. Sussan Ley just had to be there, of course, and popular television garden guru, Costa Georgiadis, delivered an environmental warning message. Even Robin Hood was called into service, with Anthony Albanese as the leader of the men in tights. It ended on a high note, borrowing from South Pacific.

Everybody would have had favourite sketches, and I particularly enjoyed Avenue Q&A, but I was very impressed by the four-part a capella vocal harmony in The Voice, the referendum to give first nations people a voice in parliament that failed due to a campaign of lies and fear-mongering by the LNP Opposition. Not every joke hit the mark but, coming thick and fast, the odd line that fell flat was soon forgotten.

Much of the comedy is in the songs, recycled from musicals, television shows, and that touch of Russian opera. Michael Tyack was kept very busy throughout, and much of the music was complex. Nobody treats Sondheim’s Company as an easy gig. The vocal skills of the four performers were exceptional.

The technical side of the production is also of considerable importance, with a wide range of costumes, designed by Hazel and Scott Fisher, the sound and video systems, by Cameron Smith, the video design, by Todd Decker, and the lighting, by Matt Cox, all being vital parts of the performance.

The audience left with smiles on their faces, and many stayed around in the foyer chatting about the show for some time after. This is another hit for the ‘Wharfies’ and a worthy addition to their long list of productions. Pride in Prejudice is only here until Saturday, so book quickly.


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