Saturday, 13 June 1998

Double Disillusion, June 13, 1998

Double Disillusion By Rod Quantock
Trades Hall from  June 10, 1998
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Reviewed around 12 June, 1998
Yet again we must declare our bias. Rod Quantock is this reviewer's local god of comedy. He is not, he declares, a political satirist but a "political vitriolist" and the Kennett and Howard governments take a beating - which is how we keep 'em honest, isn't it?

The new show incorporates material from his successful Comedy Festival show, Crown of Thorns but, after interval ("It's a proper show. We have an interval.") Quantock moves on to newer, more recently topical subjects such as tax reform and the GST with asides about One Nation.

Quantock shatters theatrical illusion and conventions in his "mono-media" production. Instead of funky computer graphics, slides, light show or soundscape, he uses blackboard and chalk to illustrate his political points and statistics. He relies on his charismatic, idiosyncratic personality and ironic delivery to captivate an audience.

He ushers, tears tickets, greets audience members by name then feigns a grand entrance after flicking off the fluoros. The stage is a rough platform lit by a couple of coloured lights which he kindly redirected away from the eyes of the front row. "You wouldn't get this in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical."

Quantock's wry, intelligent style and venomous attack on government are balanced with his warmth, generosity and genuine care about the community. he says it gets depressing talking about unemployment, poverty, company tax dodges, lying politicians, labour reform, advertising, foreign ownership, privatisation and the media dynasties of Murdoch and Packer. In short, he analyses "Power": "moral, political and economic.

He pines for the 'good old days" and postulates that for younger listeners, these days will be their good old days. Isn't that depressing? "Our history is written in our biscuits.". Teddy Bears are different since Campbell's took over Arnott's  Their legs no longer fall off when dunked. Economic rationalism has even affected our bikkies.

We are blessed with a local hero such as Quantock who never allows us to become complacent about our social and political environment. Jokes arise from significant (albeit scribbled) statistics about wealth and the GST or from laconic references to the irony of the naming of Bayswater or the silliness of selling electricity from supermarkets.

Quantock is the darling of the press at present, since he declared again that he would stand against Kennett in the seat of Burwood. He promises he won't win. But if the Witch from Ipswich can get a seat, you never know.

Kate Herbert

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