The penultimate Wharf Revue (so it is promised) is slicker and glitzier than most I’ve seen and as hit-and-miss as ever.
But when the satiric jabs land, as they do on the admittedly large target provided by our boof-headed PM, or on the sagging cheeks of Alan Jones, this edition of the long-running satirical showcase demonstrates enviable punching power.
Mounted on a splendid vaudeville stage designed by Charles Davis and lit by Matt Cox, and drawing on classic musicals such as Chicago and Cabaret, UNR-DACT-D is written and directed by Jonathan Biggins, Phil Scott and Drew Forsythe.
Scott and Biggins stay out of the limelight entirely this time, however, with Scott’s on-stage musical duties taken on by Andrew Worboys and Biggins appearing just once, in a video skit, as God.
Forsythe, who withdraw from last year’s show due to illness, is pretty much everywhere and in fine comic form, as are his cast mates Helen Dallimore, Lena Cruz and Simon Burke.
Visually and musically, the show is strong. Some of the individual sketches are less so. Forsythe and Cruz’s Gallagher & Shean-style double act, featuring Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in gleeful mood, is interminable. A valedictory monologue for Bob Hawke (played by Forsythe in a piano bar in Heaven) is too moist-eyed and satirically soft-edged. A solo spot for Aung San Suu Kyi (Cruz) strikes an oddly serious note in the program.
The show’s acknowledgment of the unacceptability of white men playing, for example, Asian women is welcome, though in a strained sketch featuring Cruz as Kim Jong-Un and two North Korean henchmen played as British RAF types, churlishness bubbles through.
But for every clunker, there are at least two sketches that fly: a triumphant Scott Morrison’s encounter with Clive Palmer; a sharp skit on the current woes experienced by the ABC with Dallimore as Leigh Sales; a riff on Kander and Ebb’s Cell Block Tango featuring Julian Assange and Cardinal George Pell, and Forsythe’s intricate impersonation of Pauline Hanson – in Sally Bowles mode, this time – is a show-ending highlight.