Friday, 25 February 2005

The Big Con by Guy Rundle, with Max Gillies, Feb 25, 2005

 The Big Con  by Guy Rundle  
Produced by Malthouse Theatre, Arts Centre & Sydney Opera House

 Dinner & Show, ANZ Pavilion, Arts Centre 6.30pm until March 12
Show only, Malthouse Theatre, March 15-April 3, 2005

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The stakes are high and the political barbs fly thick and fast in The Big Con.

Max Gillies performs a series of more savage than usual satirical impersonations in this brutal attack on Australian political conservatives.

Gillies is united in his assault with cabaret singer, Eddie Perfect, who punctuates Gillies characterisations with caustic songs.

Script and lyrics bear the stamp of the scathing wit of Guy Rundle, whose background as comedy writer and political magazine editor are evident in his ferocious and shamelessly Leftist script.

The landslide win of the Howard government, the rise of conservatism in federal politics and the absurd infighting of the ALP provided a platform for new and even more bitter comic criticism.

Rundle's rage at our political situation is palpable and penetrates the comedy.

The stage is decorated as if for a conservative Think Tank called, ironically, The Centre for Independent Analysis. Host, Eddie Perfect, introduces various right-wing speakers, all played by Gillies in exceptional make-up. (Nik Dorning)

"We're spending the night on the right side of the fence," sings Perfect.

The first half is almost unbearably brutal and Gillies portrayal of arch-conservative radio talk back host, Alan Jones, is ferocious.

What follows is Keith Windschuttle, the only fictional character, (unless I've have missed the real Keith) a radical left- turned extreme right-wing historian.

Windschuttle's rewriting of history reeks of David Irving. He discounts the Holocaust, most deaths in World War One and calls the Stolen Generation "borrowed."

Rather tame by comparison, is Alexander Downer portrayed as an incompetent kindergarten teacher type having trouble with his visual aids.

Gillies plays Tony Blair making excuses and wanting to be loved, George Bush misusing words and video characters including Phillip Ruddock and Rupert Murdoch.

These are followed by a hilarious impersonation of Amanda Vanstone who tours her road show, Amandatory Detention.

Tony Soprano brings a Mafia-style "warning" from the US government. John Howard sniggers with contempt about the total power invested in him by his new control of the Senate.

This is not a show for the faint-hearted and will offend some people - even those on the Left. The Big Con is irreverent, acerbic, combative and impassioned.

By Kate Herbert

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