13 December 2009

Review: Godzone

Godzone
Melbourne Theatre Company
10 December 2009
Sumner Theatre


I’d hand out how to vote cards for Max Gilles if he ran for any public office, especially now that he and writer Guy Rundle might be looking for new jobs because Godzone is a bit of an unexpected snooze.

Admittedly, with the federal Liberals putting on a farce that has made their supporters cringe and left the rest of us laughing as hard as we would at a Max Gilles show, this new show had a tough comedic act to follow this week.

Gilles have been satirising our pollies since Bob Hawke was Prime Minister. The Gilles Report on the ABC was my teenage source of political information and his latex-assisted satire has continued to be biting and accurate. Following Don Watson and Patrick Cook, Guy Rundle joined Gilles as writer in the year that Little Johnny got to sit at the head of the grown ups table.

Conservative pollies with severe short-man complex are a gift to pinko, pesto-eating comedians and their followers, who sponsor poor kiddies from the not-so-lucky countries and welcome anyone as their neighbour (except Liberal voters, of course). It’s hard for the left to lampoon and verbally sodomise their own.

Gilles’s Kevin07 has his jingo Aussieisms, his marketing speak and his Mandarin, but he’s not as ripe for the picking as Labor leaders like Bob or Paul. Face it, Krudd can be a bit dull and even if he doesn’t live up to all his promises, he was the one who finally let us say ‘Sorry’. Gilles’ Mad Monk Abbot can call him the Milky Bar Kid, but it’s about as painful as being lashed with a silk ribbon. There was room for some comments on being Sri Lankan and cruising the Indonesian seas and I don’t remember hearing the acronym ETS.

As Kev and Tony openly admit that their Christian faith and beliefs influence their political and personal decisions, Godzone brings the big guy into the picture in a Kevin-style think tank where even token conservative Andrew Bolt can have a say.

I expected Bolt-through-the-brain to be the character to bring back the gut-aching laughs. He could have made fun of us – the people in the audience dying to laugh. Telling us we like goats cheese and John Safran is like reminding us that we like theatre and a glass of fizz. It’s not satire. If we can’t tear new-ones for our pollies because we don’t despise them as much as we used to, perhaps it’s time to turn the spotlight on our selves – and Bolt-from-any-sense is a perfect character to do so.

Godzone is running through the over-eating season until mid-January, so I reckon it’s going to change. Rundle and Gilles are too good to let flat material stay and director Aiden Fennessy knows how to bring laughs to a stage. I wouldn’t rush for tickets just now; wait and see what the punters are saying after the day of exchanging crappy presents.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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