During the last two decades of the Wharf Revue, and in the shows at the Tilbury Hotel before that, Jonathan Biggins has created a gallery of unforgettable characters, from his wickedly funny impersonations of Tony Abbott, Peter Costello, Bob Brown, Gough Whitlam, Peter Dutton and Donald Trump to the (fictional) interpretive jazz-ballet dancer Jason Sponge, one of my own favourites from the Tilbury days. But the most popular crowd-pleaser of all has to be Paul Keating, who Biggins captures with uncanny accuracy.
Jonathan Biggins. All photographs © Brett Boardman
Bob Carr once said of Keating: “No political leader in Australia has been more entertaining.” The Bankstown boy who became the self-described Plácido Domingo of Australian politics certainly makes for a hugely entertaining onstage protagonist. Casey Bennetto’s Keating! The Musical, which began life in 2005, was a huge hit, touring for three years, winning awards and attracting sold-out, enthusiastic audiences, among them Keating himself who saw it several times.
Now comes The Gospel According to Paul, a new show written and performed by Biggins who, in his theatre program note, dubs it “the first three-dimensional, unauthorised autobiography written by someone else”.
Running 90 minutes without...