REVIEWER RATING: ★★★.5

This year, The Wharf Revue celebrates its 21st birthday. It was in 2000 that Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott first came together at Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Theatre to make audiences laugh at the eminently laughable world of Australian politics.

This year, the original trio, together with Amanda Bishop, have returned to the stage with Can of Worms, their latest “journey of satirical discovery” firmly focused on keeping the laughs going.

Has there been a time in recent history when Australians collectively were more in need of a laugh? After 19 months of living through a global pandemic, the time for a good, hearty chuckle is surely now. And, of course, throughout that time, our pollies (both at home and abroad) have never failed to be good fodder for comedy.

Over 90 minutes, The Wharf Revue team weaves in as many comical reminders of our leaders’ misfires and missteps as is conceivably possible, with some of them given the song and dance treatment. The show is created and written by the original trio, with Biggins and Forsythe also donning directors’ hats.

Early on in proceedings, we see United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly methodically working his way through the phonebook, manually sending to voters the text messages for which the party has become notorious. The team then lampoons the horrible fact of huge JobKeeper payments landing in the hands of undeserving organisations. There’s also an appearance from former NSW Premier Bob Carr, wistfully examining Australia-China relations with reference to poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Kubla Khan’.

Elsewhere, Gladys Berejiklian reflects on her time leading NSW, Pauline Hanson leads a One Nation strategy brainstorming session with Mark Latham and James Ashby (in one of the night’s most successful skits), and Kevin Rudd chimes in to remind us of his efforts to intervene in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Jacqui Lambie drops by to let us know she’s had a “gutful”, and Dorothy Gale is swept far away from Kansas and into Oz’s current housing affordability crisis.

Some jokes land more successfully than others, but audience response on opening night confirmed the crowd was with the performers all the way. Sydney audiences are clearly ready to laugh again, and The Wharf Revue: Can of Worms gives them that opportunity. Who can say what even the near future will bring us, but rest assured there’ll be enough scandal, intrigue and idiocy in politics to keep The Wharf Revue team spoilt for choice in 2022.

Photo credit: Vishal Pandey

THE WHARF REVUE: CAN OF WORMS – SEASON DETAILS

Venue: York Theatre,. Seymour Centre, cnr City Road and Cleveland Street, Chippendale
Season: Playing now until 23 December 2021
Duration: 90 mins, no interval
Price: Adults $85/90, Seniors (Tue-Thu) $80,  Concession $75, Under 30 $50
Bookings: seymourcentre.com or 9351 7940

Covid Safety Measures listed on Seymour Centre website here

CAN OF WORMS is also touring to Canberra, Wollongong, Darwin, Griffith, Dubbo, Tamworth, Cessnock, Port Macquarie, Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Orange, Wyong, Penrith, Parramatta, Glen Street, Warrnambool, Narre Warren, Nunawading, Launceston and Hobart. Check www.softtread.com.au for details.

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