Review By Benjamin Lamb
Jonathan Biggins’ 90 minute Paul Keating show will be one you’ll never forget. His dedication to the craft, and unique approach to acting is absolutely impeccable.
The well-tailored sold out Wednesday night crowd matched the 17th century inspired office set, making it feel like you were sitting in the former Prime Minister’s office.
Entering with one of the Politician’s favourite pieces – Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Biggins appears from nowhere, immediately in character as Keating. He wastes no time starting, getting straight into it, beginning with some crowd work, asking those in the front row where they are from, almost echoing a short stand up set.
He then goes on to a bunch of hilarious jokes and anecdotes, littering in well known facts about Keating with current politicians like ScoMo and John Howard.
The light dims, he then sets up a slideshow, to slightly teach the audience about his early days. In every aspect of what he does, whether it’s turning off a light or retrieving something from his desk, Biggins stays perfectly in character, mimicking Keating’s every gesture and mannerism.
While teaching the crowd about his upbringing, he’s still joking around, making fun of things that made him tick. But the first real moment comes when Keating informs the crowd of his father’s death when he was still quite young, the visible emotion from the stage ensued in dead silence from the crowd - This is the moment where Biggins truly became Keating, you forgot it was an impression, you truly felt like it was the former Labour leader on stage.
At times to break up the slideshow, Keating would shut it off, often using the photos to set up a story about certain aspects of his life. Then to break up the heavily political oriented stories, Keating informed the crowd about his musical passions, spending some time detailing his life when he was managing popular group, The Ramrods, once again through his storytelling, you were shown Keating’s passion for sticking to his guns, and ability to achieve anything he set his mind to.
This also marked his first foray into a musical break, singing along to Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah,’ a piece from one of Keating’s favourite musicians. Once again, this helps to break up the long stories about politics, and also showcases Biggins’ impressive vocal ability.
We then get into the juicy stories from Keating’s past, through him detailing his journey into public office, and all the interesting and quirky characters he met while doing so.
He then leads us to the time when he met his wife, once again, another emotional moment, him describing the difficulties about being away from his family for long periods of time while in office, once again, this emotion being felt by the crowd, with whimpers and emotional sighs throughout.
The stories continue with lots of jokes, and references to things from modern Australia, like Tiktok and Uber Eats. The show concludes when Keating completed his story about his Prime Ministership, the stage going to black.
He then comes back out on to stage for one more song and dance, performing the popular standard ‘That’s Life,’ which left the audience in a good mood as we departed the Arts Centre on Wednesday night.
The Gospel According To Paul is an extremely insightful and enjoyable 90 minutes, but to get the full experience, it’s important to have some understanding of the 1970’s – 1980’s political landscape in Australia, otherwise some jokes will definitely go over your head.
Photo Credit: Brett Boardman