Sunday, 12 April 1998

Rod Quantock, Crown Of Thorns, April 12, 1998

Rod Quantock, Crown Of Thorns
 Melbourne Town Hall until April 26, 1998
Reviewed by Kate Herbert on or around April 11, 1998

It's already public knowledge: Rod Quantock is my comedy hero. He is smart, informed, articulate - and seriously FUNNY. What makes him so different from everybody else is his overtly political agenda.

His material slaps both state and federal governments and, although he is blatantly critical of Kennett and Howard, he takes swipes at naughty Labour Party PMs too. Crown of Thorns follows in the footsteps of his two shows from 1997: Sunset Boulevard and Merry Christmas Jesus.

In the former he deconstructed the secret machinations of our economy, in the latter he launched Kennett's plan to promote Jesus' Second Coming as part of Victoria's "event-led recovery." Both of these issues rear their ugly heads in Crown of Thorns.

 The title resonates with criticism of Crown Casino bosses although he avoids direct references except for a smirking, "Haven't the last two weeks been fun?"

It is his easy manner and relaxed delivery that lull us into a false sense of comfort. Quantock forces the audience to look at hard questions: unemployment, poverty, economic rationalism, media monopolies, corruption, WIK, wharfies and - at the base of all of these - Power.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely and Quantock is not letting any villainous social cockroach slide under the carpet. He is courageous, even suicidal, in his frontal attack on Kennett who is not known for his tolerance of criticism.

The show is filled with witty and laconic yarns. He wanders off on satirical detours about doing gigs for a Plants Plus convention or at a Ringwood nightclub where the only thing he has in common with the 18 year-old audience is breathing. He reminisces about the days of the Vietnam draft when he was not yet a real radical.

But even what appear to be his most innocuous diversions pertain to our political and social environment. This comic has a clear moral and political philosophy. "Whenever I say 'democracy' people get nostalgic." .He bemoans Arnotts’ being sold to US concerns  "The history of Australia is written in its biscuits."  He declares there are advantages in being poor. "You never have to worry about what to wear to the opera."

Quantock never lets us forget what we have lost since privatisation of public utilities, bulldozing of our heritage, selling of our assets etc. etc. Lest we forget.


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