Friday, 7 March 2008

Beware of the Dogma, March 7, 2008

Beware of the Dogma
by Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe, Phillip Scott, Sydney Theatre Company
Whitehorse Centre Nunawading, March 7-12
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

We rarely see political comedy in Melbourne despite our pretensions to be social critics and our Comedy Festival with hoards of shows. Beware of the Dogma not only has the wittiest title, but it is intelligent, hilarious, incisive political cabaret – and it’s from Sydney. Not only that, it is produced not by some lefty fringe cooperative but by Sydney Theatre Company. Be ashamed Melbourne.

Writer-performers (from Sydney – let’s rub it in) Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott with Valerie Bader, present scathing musical and comic wit targeting dogmatists past and present. They lampoon self-help gurus, scientology, Papists, academics, politicians, Russia, China and New Zealand.

The title song cunningly warns against “mad dogma”. A deliciously clever Papal conference of 16th century dogmatists features the supercilious Cardinal Pell of Umbrage, the rambling Lord Barry Jones of Oxford and the self-righteous Sister Greer of St. Germain and is moderated by monkish Tom Kenneally.

New Zealand’s Helen Clark and her NZ “fush and chups” accent take a smacking in a cool parody of jazz classic, Take Five. Biggins, as a stunningly accurate Paul Keating, presents the John Howard Memorial Lecture to “fellow irrelevant Australians”, snipes at the “performing midget” (Rudd and Howard) and fires barbs at both parties.

Speaking of irrelevant, the Democrats get a serve and Barnaby Joyce laments having a girl’s name and sings, I’ll Toe the Line.

The Russians celebrate their new world singing, “Russia was the pits” to Puttin’ on the Ritz and the Chinese forecast world domination as they poison us with lead paint and pollution.

Catholic Guilt wins the morality stakes ahead of Tony Abbott on Moral Outrage. Kevin Rudd goes camping with Labour Party Boy Scouts and we witness The Last Days in Howard’s Bunker as the Liberals face annihilation – at Howard’s hands.

The final epic musical, Fable of Prosperity’s Child, in the pretentious style of international festivals, attacks Gen X and its delight in spending money it does not have. It’s All About Me, sings 35 year-old adolescent while her Baby Boomer dad informs her that her inheritance is gone in, I Spent It All On Me.

Funny show. Catch it if you can.

By Kate Herbert

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