This perfect Keating knockoff is all an iceberg and no tip
The Gospel According to Paul ★★★ ½
Arts Center Melbourne, until May 23
Of all our living prime ministers, Paul Keating attracts the most attention in the arts. His colossal ego and talent for gutting insults are a gift to political satirists, and Keating genuinely enjoyed aesthetic pursuits himself.
As treasurer and prime minister, Keating probably did more than John Howard to put Australia on the path to economic rationalism, but he did it in style – wearing Zegna suits, with Mahler strains floating down the hall and a collection of antique clocks counting the minutes until his inevitable defeat.
Since then, the premiers have not had much time for the arts. Scott Morrison posted a Spotify classical music playlist (next to his very ridiculed “Global Eighties”) but it does not contain Mahler and it is hard to imagine him declaring with a dry mind – as Jonathan Biggins’ Keating does in The Gospel according to Paul – that he wants it Symphony of the Resurrection played at his funeral.
Biggins’ one-man show is an impressive feat of political identity theft. It’s more ambitious, and much less overtly parodic, than Max Gillies’ big satires, and gives us a 90-minute audience with a perfect impersonation of Keating as he looks back on his career and launches barbed remarks during the parade. largely uninspiring. Australian political leaders who followed him.
The depth of research makes it a form of biography not allowed on stage. That is, to reverse Keating’s blow on Peter Costello, all iceberg and no tip.
The show looks at Keating’s early days in Bankstown, his graduation from school at age 14, his political tutelage under Jack Lang, and his junior role in the Whitlam government. Every note and title of the Hawke / Keating years is examined in a way that will delight political tragedies and confuse the less boffinish among us.