Review by Cynthia Ning
To what seems to be 10 years in the making, The Wharf Revue 2022: Looking for Albanese is a satirical piece that pokes fun at the highs and lows of the last decade in Australian politics and touches on the current trends of the UK and US.
As you enter the ring, you will be pleased to know that you will be greeted by the quartet dressed as iconic laughing clowns one would see at Luna Park or a state fair doing a pitch-perfect making you feel that you really are at the circus about to be entertained, and by multiple ringmasters in this case.
This is my first time seeing the group perform on stage and I have to say that they exceeded all expectations and got the crowd roaring with laughter from the moment the spotlight hit them! The beloved comedians have been performing together for over 20 years with Mandy Bishop flooring everyone with her vocals and acting chops.
These seasoned actors are well-versed in today’s big issues and bounce off each other’s energy and dialogue, never missing a beat. Sound box did a phenomenal job with each scene jump and lighting transition. Minimal props were easily rotated in and out of scenes making each act flexible and no two the same. The ambience and space were illuminated by the grand piano being the centre of the universe which emanated power, solace, and luxury. It is always such a joy to see live music on stage and is especially appreciated when accompanied by the singers belting out original singles, fun duets, and all together.
The occasional projected video interviews break up the performance, providing the actors with a cleverly disguised water break and treating the audience to a cinematic viewing of local and international politicians with tongue-in-cheek impersonations and mannerisms that will have you in stitches.
Costume changes were masterfully done (including the wigs) in time for each scene which blew my mind as they were immaculate upon re-entering the new line-up looking nothing like the last politician they played earlier – Props to the design team.
Pop culture references help draw in a younger audience to understand some of the humour as it ties into the extraordinarily bizarre world we live in today. There is a clever reference to Alice in Wonderland having the audience follow in utter bemusement and trying to make sense of it all. The fluidity in their movements in embodying different characterisations of each chosen politician is a monstrous feat within itself and they carry it with confidence.
The show has the essence of musical theatre, stand-up comedy and intimate monologues all rolled into one. Each impersonation was spot on and the serious undertones of worldwide issues and expectations from our leaders are repeatedly challenged and questioned as the cast seeks to spark the ambition and collective aim for a better future.
I was crying and laughing at some of the jokes as they were resonating a little too close to home with the portrayal of struggling artists working as waiters to pay for their living with limited opportunities and support offered in their profession. There is hope for change and with it, comes a better understanding of the hard work and dedication to the craft for all to enjoy.
Bearing in mind that this is a 90-minute show with no interval, use the time before wisely to run to the bathroom so you don’t miss a minute of this chock-a-block show. Even I ran out of breath just by watching Jacqui Lambie do her down under hoedown. Clearly not their first rodeo, Phillip, Jonathan, Drew and Mandy are multitalented actors who have their craft down to a fine art in keeping the audience engaged and entertained.
A must-see for anyone who has a keen ear for political history, and comedy who wants a highly entertaining piece of escapism. And for our struggling youth, 30 and under, then you will be in luck to know that it will cost you only $50.00.
Happy days ahead indeed.