Here in the echo chamber, we preview a piece of vaudeville that’s about us (well, Crikey is mentioned at least). A play that mocks plays, including the very next production from the Melbourne Theatre Company.

It’s all very meta.

There’s not many left in the chamber, of course; just Don Watson and a few other marginalised bleeding hearts. It’s Don Watson’s Party, see (Don Parties On at the MTC from Thursday, in fact, a not-particularly-awaited sequel that could have done without the preliminary pillorying. Can’t imagine David Williamson laughed). One of the election revellers mentions he’s following Guy Rundle’s tweets (which is gross creative licence; we’ve been trying to get Rundle onto Twitter for a good 12 months but he’s not keen).

That’s Rundle of Crikey fame, our esteemed writer-at-large. Rundle who partnered with Max Gillies a year ago to produce the, errr, lamentable Godzone for MTC. The decision to hire these Sydney ring-ins, the almost-Christmas-traditional Wharf Revue, for some alternative summer light relief was a better one. As Lloyd Bradford Syke reviewed for Curtain Call in Sydney:

China might be in control of rare earth metals, but Sydney is still very much on its mettle when it comes to political satire, thanks, almost exclsusively, to the individual and combined talents of Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe, Phil Scott and, now, Amanda Bishop…

I’ve long since lost count of how many years Sydney Theatre Company’s annual Wharf Revue’s been running, but it certainly hasn’t lost its edge. Bitter, twisted, caustic and comedic, it covers a lot of fertile ground in 90 minutes or so. This year’s Sondheimesque theme of Not Quite Out Of The Woods focusses in on the stuck-in-the-mud stagnation of the minority government we apparently asked for and deserve. Subtitled ‘a Grimm reality’, it has moments as dark as the hauntingly gothic poster that promotes it. featuring a defiant ranga, as Little Red Riding Hood, confronted by a caped, crusading wolf, whose budgie smugglers suggest he’s glad to see her, but whose overall demeanour doesn’t…

It’s our MAD. Our national lampoon. This year though, amidst all the laughs, the loud hailers seems to be shouting a dire warning, last but not least in the finale. They seem to be saying a lot of what they’re harpooning isn’t funny at all.

The details: The Wharf Revue plays the Sumner Theatre until January 29. Tickets on the MTC website.

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