Since the year 2000, The Wharf Revue has been satirising the celebrated, skewering the political and generally running amok in the world of current affairs.
Jonathan Biggins, Drew Forsythe and Phillip Scott have been the beating heart of the Revue as writers and performers. In honour of the show's magnificent staying power, we sat down with them for a dose of nostalgia, flicking through old production photos to see what memories they brought up. Here is the result...
THE END OF THE WHARF AS WE KNOW IT (2000)
Drew: That's the Dignams of Lord Howe Island performing a musical version of Hair.
Jonathan: … about Lord Howe Island – "Wing it to Lord Howe".
Jonathan: They were potential mascots for the Sydney Olympic Games.
Drew: A funnel web spider and a prawn.
Jonathan: I was a prawn, yes. And they must have put some plywood down to protect the set – we were on the set of the The Recruit.
Drew: Which I was in. I'd do that show and then turn around and come straight back on for the Revue.
OFFICIAL VISITORS' GUIDE TO AUSTRALIA (2000)
Jonathan: Why was Jacqui Weaver on a box? Oh, that was a time before radio mics, so that's actually a functioning microphone.
Drew: Geraldine Turner there was the guest for the first week, Tony Lamond and Maggie Dence and Tina Bursill came after. And that's Jacqui as the Koala from Cephala.
Jonathan: This was the "Potted Williamson". David Williamson actually wrote the sketch.
Drew: It was like the entire Williamson oeuvre mashed into one. He satirised himself.
Jonathan: And that wig's obviously a tribute to Robyn Nevin. Every Williamson play in the space of 3 minutes.
BEYOND OUR CONTROL (2000)
Jonathan: That must be the incomparable Tony Sheldon and Robyn Moase doing the synchronised swimming from the Olympics. That show, Beyond our Control, didn't have any of us [Jonathan, Drew or Phillip] in it. It was Robyn, Tony, Andrew Ross and Tony Taylor. That was at the end of that first year of the Revue in 2000, so there was a whole thing about the Olympics.
Drew: It was the only version of the Revue that was completely without us – neither performing, nor writing.
FREE PETROL! (2001)
Jonathan: That's the opening number, which we did on office chairs. Look at us with naturally brown hair!
Drew: It looks fake!
Jonathan: That's Valerie Bader there with us. We'd shoot on and do a whole opening ballet sequence on office chairs.
Jonathan: Ah, the Democrats. Their first appearance I think. "Ave, fellow Democrat." They were in many Revues, until the party disbanded. In a later show, in which Drew wasn't performing, my Democrat delivered a eulogy thinking that he had died. As it turned out, he hadn't, so the next year we came back …
Drew: He'd actually just gone to Nigeria to marry a mail-order bride, where he was kidnapped by separatists, and put in a truck with a baboon and a meerkat. But he was allergic to meerkats so he came out in a rash and the baboon fancied him…
Jonathan: Finally, when the Democrats were voted out of every parliament in the country, these two committed suicide together. So, the final sketch was them in heaven.
Drew: And that's me as Pauline Hanson.
Drew: These are the CWA ladies…
Jonathan: Dulcie Helly…
Drew: …and Eunice Dodds. We had an exploding cake at the end.
Jonathan: The history of Federation told through CWA cakes.
THE YEAR OF LIVING COMFORTABLY (2002)
Drew: That was political memorabilia at the market.
Jonathan: Was that the Starbucks song?
Drew: No, I'm not sure what that was.
Drew: That's John Howard and John Laws. The eyebrows were enormous back then.
Drew: That's Valerie, me and Tony Sheldon as refugees.
Jonathan: "The South Pacific Solution" with the boat "Doc My Pae". That was 2002 … depressing how long it's been going.
MUCH REVUE ABOUT NOTHING (2002)
Drew: Phillip as a rabbit. I don't know what that is.
Drew: That's Barry Jones at an ALP conference trying trying to order a Vienna schnitzel.
Jonathan: We're two ASIO agents.
Drew: Alexander Downer was going on a secret mission to Iraq and these are two ASIO agents disguised as a camel and we meet Alexander in the desert.
Jonathan: Still in Iraq with Alexander Downer, Saddam Hussein and Amanda Vanstone.
Drew: That's Mark Latham and Michelle Grattan. One day she was in the audience but because my glasses were so thick, I couldn't see her, thankfully.
SUNDAY IN IRAQ WITH GEORGE (2003)
Jonathan: "The Road to Damascus" with Tony Sheldon as Bing Crosby and me as Bob Hope … and Phillip as a sort of Sydney Greenstreet character.
Jonathan: Oh, babies. Judging by Valerie and Tony's faces, I think they're reflecting on the quality of that particular sketch.
Drew: That was old Labor stalwarts bemoaning the state of the party.
Jonathan: Yes, it was the wake for the ALP. One of the many funerals we've held for the ALP.
FAST AND LOOSE! (2004)
Jonathan: The Democrats packing up the electoral office.
Drew: Yes, I think I'd just been to Arthur Chesterfield-Evans' BBQ and I still had a sausage hanging out of my pocket and whenever I laughed it'd jiggle.
Drew: That's Rupert Murdoch as Mr Burns.
Jonathan: Puppets… God knows what that's about.
Jonathan: That's the Sods. Genevieve Lemon as the daughter, Drew as the dad and me as Mother Sod.
CONCERT FOR TAX RELIEF (2005)
Jonathan: That's the start of the ALP with the shearer's strike. No microphones back then so it was all acoustic.
Jonathan: There's Gary Scale as Clover Moore. Can't remember the number.
Drew: Oh, Margaret and David.
STUFF ALL HAPPENS (2005)
Drew: That's the "Damnation of Ruddock" after Faust. Ruddock had done a pact with the devil, John Howard – to become Attorney-General he had first to be Immigration Minister.
Phillip: Peter Cundall…
Drew: Gardening Australia.
Phillip: …"blood and bone"
Drew: And that's the homeless man.
Phillip: Oh yes, who lived in the Cross City Tunnel, where nobody ever bothered him.
BEST WE FORGET (2006)
Jonathan: That's undercover agents listening to terrorist conversations where all the codewords are something like "bouncy castle".
Drew: The Democrats again, looking at climate change. Jonathan was drawing a diagram as we were explaining climate change in the Girl Guides Hall. And as the diagram of the gulf stream and everything else came together it became a picture of a naked woman.
Jonathan: And we couldn't get it off…
Drew: Because it was done in indelible ink. So we just fled the hall.
REVUE SANS FRONTIERES (2006)
Jonathan: This is a meeting of some very far-right Christian group within the NSW Liberal Party.
Jonathan: Peter Costello as Macbeth and who was Phillip playing…
Drew: Lady Macbeth?
Phillip: We could never afford great wigs.
BEWARE OF THE DOGMA (2007)
Phillip: The first appearance of Rudd!
Drew: Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Peter Garrett and Albo.
Jonathan: And we're in opposition. During the run of this show, we turned into a government.
Jonathan: "The Howard Bunker", which we reprised in 2015.
WAITING FOR GARNAUT (2008)
Jonathan: Oh dear.
Drew: That's Piers Ackerman, Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt.
Jonathan: Never quite worked. Looked good. It was about names… very punny.
Drew: And very politically incorrect.
Jonathan: "Flogging Parsons", that's what it was called. The sort of sketch that needs a lot of program notes, and you wonder why is no one laughing at this.
Drew: This is "Waiting for Garnaut", a take on Waiting for Godot obviously.
Jonathan: We're on the set of The Great and which had been in there before and used a revolve, so we said leave it there! That was the highest production-value show we've done. And Amanda Bishop's first show.
Phillip: The New Zealand swim team …
Jonathan: … before the 2008 Olympics. They were going to make a protest.
Jonathan: Kevin Rudd as Maria from the Sound of Music, Paul Keating as the Mother Superior. Keating: "What is it you c***face?" … Rudd: "I think it's 'can't'." … Keating: "No, I was right the first time."
PENNIES FROM KEVIN (2009)
Drew: That's Helen Dallimore and us in the opening number.
Drew: Phillip as Harry Potter/Rudd and Helen as Hermione/Julia Gillard.
Drew: That's Phillip as Steve Fielding from the Family First party who always used to dress up in different things.
NOT QUITE OUT OF THE WOODS (2010)
Drew: That's "Abbottar"
Phillip: Yes, the film was out.
Jonathan: And Angela Merkel! In the Eurodivision Song Competition.
Jonathan: Bob Hawke in the bar of broken dreams.
Drew: A superb wig, somebody cut it off a mop.
Drew: That's "Grease" in the Eurodvision Song Contest.
Jonathan: Should have had a modesty skirt!
DEBT DEFYING ACTS! (2011)
Jonathan: The debut of the Gillard/Rudd Phantom of the Opera sketch.
Drew: This is King Lear. With Rupert Murdoch dividing up his kingdom with Amanda as Rebecca Brooks there.
Jonathan: Ah, and the first outing of the French Revolution sketch.
Jonathan: Our favourite set.
Drew: Set in a circus.
Jonathan: And that's the finale.
RED WHARF: BEYOND THE RINGS OF SATIRE (2012)
Jonathan: That's Amanda as Julia Gillard as Mary Poppins.
Drew: And Josh Quong Tart as Darth Abbott in our Star Wars sketch.
Drew: John Howard as Yoda with Julie Bishop as Princess Leia.
Jonathan: "The Abbott Family".
Jonathan: Great shot!
Drew: That's Gillard in the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead sketch.
Jonathan: She sang the Habanera.
Drew: This is the "Restoration of the Liberals". Amanda as Sophie Mirabella, Jonathan as Christopher Pyne and Simon Burke as Bronwyn Bishop.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS (2014)
Jonathan: Bob Brown and Christine Milne, where he's instructing her to get back her 'Green thang'.
Drew: That's Doug Hansell as Blinky Bill Shorten.
Jonathan: And Phillip as the angry koala, Albo.
Drew: Very angry.
Jonathan: George Brandis.
The Wharf Revue 2020, 21 Oct – 21 Nov, Roslyn Packer Theatre
Photographs by Tracey Schramm, apart from: Official Visitor's Guide to Australia photographs by Melissa Latham; Much Revue About Nothing and Sunday in Iraq with George photographs by Phil Sheather; and Open for Business photographs by Brett Boardman.