BWW REVIEW: Reaching New Heights, THE WHARF REVUE 2019: UNR-DACT-D Is A Well Crafted And Expertly Executed Evening Of Political Satire
Saturday 12th October 2019, 7:30pm, Roslyn Packer Theatre
Sydney Theatre Company's THE WHARF REVUE 2019: UNR-DACT-D sees the annual political satire show reach new heights of creativity and quality. With a plethora of local and world politics to draw on, creators Jonathan Biggins (Actor and Director), Drew Forsythe (Actor and Director) and Phillip Scott (Musical Supervisor) have delivered a fabulously funny and incredibly astute 90 minutes of theatre.
As with last year's show, THE WHARF REVUE 2019: UNR-DACT-D is playing in the Roslyn Packer Theatre rather than it's namesake home which is still under renovation. For this year, the set design of the show, which has been touring since opening in Glen Street Theatre in September, is much better suited to the larger space with a series of art deco inspired, lightbulb lined illuminated boarders which diminish to the screen for video and cgi backdrops that have featured in previous productions. The theme of old style filament bulbs bordering a performance space is carried through to the boarder of the thrust stage. In addition to the show's relatively consistent staging of a set of mobile stairs, this production has a higher design value with the addition of raised balconies allowing more vertical variety, taking advantage of the larger space.
Potentially realizing the success of the previous year's musical theatre focused casting, Forsythe, is joined by Lena Cruz, Helen Dallimore, Simon Burke and Andrew Worboys (also Musical Director). Making full use of the performers' talents, there is a much heavier focus of adapting musical theatre songs, as opposed to completely new compositions, with some wonderful selections from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Hamilton, Chicago and a range of other well-known shows. Their background has also resulted in the tightest choreography for the Wharf Revue in at least the past 5 years as the show shifts from slapstick sketch comedy show to more crafted vaudeville variety show whilst still retaining a heavy focus on the incredibly creative and intelligent text.
With plenty of source material to draw on, the show comprises 17 solid numbers which range from live performance to pre-recorded 'advertisements' and 'announcements' and even an amusing interview where Dallimore plays both the role of interviewer and the multitude of interviewees. It is refreshing to see the inclusion of a second female in the form of Lena Cruz who adds a greater authenticity to the diversity that is being called for in politics and also theatre as well as better representing the politicians of Asian descent. Her presentation of the North Korean is brilliant, and her Diversity Tango is a delightful much needed call out of the need for representation, in more than just the political spheres.
Forsythe's tribute to Bob Hawke is presented with the right balance of humour and respect and his regular presentation of the red headed Queensland senator is always a crowd pleaser, particularly when he dons sequin hotpants and buckle shoes. Burke lends his fabulous physical humor to create the bumbling British leader while he sings an alternate version of HAMILTON's You'll Be Back. While Biggins does not appear in the flesh, he does appear with a screen message from God. Worboys predominantly provides live music in the form of keyboard and also buddhist bells and singing bowls but also steps out onto the stage for ensemble numbers.
Of the years that BroadwayWorld Sydney has been covering the Wharf Revue, this years THE WHARF REVUE UNR-DACT-D is the best yet. Well worth securing a ticket to as it is a treat for anyone with even the slightest interest in politics or musical theatre.
Photos: Brett Boardman