by Bobby Goudie.

For the past 15 years The Wharf Revue has mercilessly mocked all the usual suspects of Australian politics. Written and created by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott, The Wharf Review has ensured no political party has been safe from their satire.

For the 2016 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the team have assembled the who’s who of 21st Century embarrassments to ensure Adelaide audiences will have huge laugh at our political landscape and characters before heading to the July Federal Election.

The celebration of the past 15 years also features actor Amanda Bishop, well known for her Julia Gillard impersonations, with lighting designed by Matthew Marshall and musical direction also by Phillip Scott.

The Clothesline speaks on the phone with all three of The Wharf Revue’s creators during their planning for their next annual Revue. We begin by suggesting that lot has happened in Australian Politics in the past 15 years, and ask who audiences can expect to feature in the Celebrating 15 Years show.

“I am sure you will see every Prime Minister from the past five years, which is a lot!” Jonathan Biggins begins. “We do go all the way back to John Howard’s time as Prime Minister and the Howard bunker as well as covering people like Geoffrey Robinson, Barry Jones, Peter Costello, Bob Carr, Jacqui Lambie and George Brandis. We have the Mark Latham Diaries sketch, Christopher Pyne’s science and technology rap and a whole heap of other great sketches. It is a real mixed bag. You get the whole kit and caboodle because it is a longer 90 minute show, which is a much longer slot than you can usually get for a festival.”

Do you get confused with so many characters?

“It is very easy to put on the wrong costume,” Jonathan says. “A costume change of one minute suddenly turns into ten seconds. So that has certainly happened. We dress ourselves so have to have a lot of running lists around the place. Once you are in the right costume though you are able to get into the groove of the character.”

Do you each have a favourite politician to play?

“I love playing Paul Keating,” Jonathan responds. “Alexander Downer is another favourite who makes some nice appearances in this show, even though he has also been out of Politics for a while.”The Wharf Review Circles sm - Ad Cab Fest - The Clothesline

“George Brandis would have to be my favourite to play,” adds Phillip Scott. “He was Arts Minister for a short period of time and so I get to wear a suit on the top half and a ballet tutu and tights on the bottom half. I think I make a very elegant entrance.”

“I would have to say Adelaide’s own Christopher Pyne,” Drew Forsythe says. “There seem to be a lot of memorable characters that have come from Adelaide. You have Nick Xenophon, Sarah Hanson-Young and Cory Bernardi. Adelaide provides a lot of material for us!”

There are often new faces coming into politics, both in Australia and Internationally. Do you get excited by certain politicians emerging and then have to quickly figure out which one of you is going to portray them?

“It is a bit of a gift when people like Clive Palmer come along, that’s for sure. We are currently trying to work out who is going to play Donald Trump, Peta Credlin and Michaelia Cash,” Jonathan says.

“We are lucky though that politics is actually a fairly slow process,” he continues. “The front bench often has the same people hanging around for quite a while, even if there might be a revolving leadership door. It is interesting looking back at what we have done ten years ago and realising that most of these are current topics again. People say that we have heaps of material, but it is actually the same stuff again and again. Climate change, for example, we have known about since the 1980s, but very little has changed over that whole time.”

You have had 15 years together and twenty one shows as The Wharf Revue. How have you been able to work together so well for so long?

“We are all a good fit together and we enjoy what we do,” Phillip says. “It is great to do political satire and have an opinion on politics this way, even though we don’t pursue just one political party or position. Although, we tend to focus on whoever is in power as they simple do more, but certainly we are bipartisan in our approach and certainly poke fun at the Greens and minor party’s too. No one is safe.”

“We also tend to agree and disagree with the politics, have a similar taste in music and similar sense of humour,” adds Drew.

How do you come up with your sketches?

“We come up with an external model, whether that is a film, television or a musical format and then try and fit a story into that,” says Phillip. For example, once we did Gilligan’s Island on Manus Island. That’s how we approach it.”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

“I think the secret of the long jeopardy of the show is that it is always funny,” Jonathan says. “We speak to an audience about people they know and issues that are affecting them. I think one of the great parts of theatre is that it can be so responsive to what society is worried about at that time. People like The Wharf Review because it is a pressure release on both sides of politics from the doomy picture that is painted in the news. They just like a bit of a laugh.

“The nice thing about the ‘15 Year’ show is that we can reflect that it has always been like this and it always will be. The more things change, the more they stay the same. People get reminded about all the things they were panicking about 12 years ago and realise that actually it wasn’t all that bad. It is nice reminder that it is not the end of the world. Politicians will keep doing what they always keep doing.”

The Wharf Revue: Celebrating 15 Years performs at Her Majesty’s Theatre, at various times, on Wed 15 Jun until Sat 18 Jun.

Book at BASS on 131 246 and Click HERE to purchase your tickets.

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