Friday, 11 December 2009

Godzone by Max Gillies ***

 By Max Gillies & Guy Rundle, Melbourne Theatre Company
Where and When: Sumner Theatre, MTC, December 11, 2009 January 17, 2010
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Max Gillies and writer, Guy Rundle, rejigged some characters in their political satire, Godzone, prior to opening. A week is a long time in politics and, recently, we saw the Federal Liberal Party eat its own liver (or leader). The changes perhaps took Gillies and Rundle by surprise but they optimised their connectivity paradigm – to coin a Ruddism – and slotted the political innovations into the show.

Godzone (sounds like “God’s Own”) resembles Kevin Rudd’s 2020 vision conference. Gillies impersonates a parade of smarty-pants, public personalities. His version of Rudd is squeaky clean, combed and pressed as he tortures the English language, combining incomprehensible management speak with Aussie clich├ęs. Godzone is “an Australian thoughtgather dreamcatch maximising possibility and connectivity” – and it’s also “really bonza”.

Gillies, directed by Aidan Fennessy, performs solo so his characterisations rely heavily on extraordinary wigs (Jurga Celikiene OK), make-up design (Nik Dorning) and video sketches to cover costume changes. His Rudd is uncannily accurate in speech and appearance while others are more caricatures.

Gillies’ Tony Abbott, with wing-nut ears, stammers his conference address which comprises mostly Rudd bashing (“Goody-two-shoes”), lamenting the dark day in 2007 when Australians made a huge error voting for Labour, and informing us that he is God’s choice for PM. Malcolm Turnbull also makes a brief appearance looking bemused.

English-American columnist and self-styled intellectual, Christopher Hitchens, appears as a slightly sozzled, pompous ass from the “Socialist Workers’ Party, Wimbledon branch”, explaining his neo-conservative take on Iraq.

Gillies does a fair version of Gillard treating us like kids at the opening of a School of the Future although he misses her nasal twang. Several video sketches are hilarious parodies. Joe Hockey appears jolly and confused, clutching a snack and babbling distractedly. Barnaby Joyce is a riot in a shouting TV ad selling petrol-guzzling cars.

A certain conservative columnist from this paper pops up too. (Initials AB. Can you guess?)  bullishly attacking the brunch-eating, caffe-latte-sipping, inner-city mob that is so out of touch with his enormous readership.

Huge laughs accompany the bogus conference sponsors’ ads. Singh’s Tandoori Takeaway and Training Institute gets big hoots as does the obscure, corporate sponsor, Omnicorp, that produces…um…well, we have no idea.

There is plenty of new material in this tight parody of our political landscape. No one escapes the wrath of Gillies and Rundle.

By Kate Herbert

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