This is a show for the nostalgic and the masochistic. The Gospel According to Paul is a one man show written and performed by Jonathan Biggins. For many years, the Sydney Theatre Company’s Wharf Revue included Biggins’ impersonation of Paul Keating; now Biggins is extensively touring a show devoted to ‘the wit and wisdom of Paul Keating’.
In the last couple of months, the show has been all over the place including Wollongong, Cessnock, Wyong and even Canberra. This week it is in the Sydney Opera House before heading to Victoria.
But it is all a long time ago. A person, 23 years of age, was not yet born when Keating was bundled out of office. This is a backward looking concept.
It is alarming that the contemporary equivalent of Paul Keating is Chris Bowen. The Labor party was better back in Keating’s day. There is unquestionably a trove of one-liners to quote from and Paul Keating was able to effectively deliver material written for him.
But Keating is too complex a figure to be contained in an extended comedy sketch. Don Watson’s Recollections of a Bleeding Heart is a better place to study the person whom Watson describes as ‘an enigma, a paradox, an oxymoron on legs, a contradiction’. But Biggins’ is the show currently on offer even though there is a likelihood that it diminishes its subject.
One curious element: in some of the publicity shots of Biggins as Keating, he looks strangely like Peter Costello.
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