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Review - The Gospel According to Paul: exhaustingly, eye wateringly funny


Pictured: Jonathan Biggins. Photo by BrettBoardman.

The Gospel According to Paul

Written by and starring Jonathan Biggins

Directed by Aarne Neem

Presented by QPAC in association with Soft Tread

Cremorne Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

Season: July 9-13. Duration: 90 minutes without interval. Bookings: qpac.com.au or phone 136 246

The Gospel According to Paul is comic genius written and performed by a man who has exquisite timing; incisive wit and a knack of making an audience believe it is watching the person he is impersonating. It is exhaustingly, eye wateringly funny.

Jonathan Biggins has been impersonating Paul Keating for a long time in short monologues, mainly in the hugely popular Wharf Revue, but this time he has gone the whole hog and provided a hilarious 90 minute show filled with Keating quotes and wicked humour.

Keating’s acid tongue is recreated brilliantly as his foes and even friends came under fiendish scrutiny to roars of laughter from the audience.

It must be said that the Cremorne Theatre was packed to the hilt with a politically savvy crowd and a few local pollies – including state treasurer Jackie Trad and ex-Lib boss John-Paul Langbroek. The audience though seemed to be a devoted Labor mob judging from where the applause and laughter rang loudest.

But political leanings apart, whether you love Keating or hate him, he has been a dominant player in Australian political history and one hell of a great character. In his life from youth through to today he has been tough, arrogant, fearless and flamboyant but overall he has been fun to watch in action.

Biggins penned and performed what he describes as “an autobiography written by someone else”. And that is what we got. We heard Biggins as Keating producing all the caustic wit and some tall stories, but occasionally we were allowed under the skin for a few more tender moments in his life. Biggins confessed to a lot of research and admitted to saying some things that Keating didn’t say “but might have!”

It was so easy to believe we were watching the real man in action.

Designer Mark Thompson set the stage in classical splendour with polished antique desk and arm chair, clocks, Grecian and Wedgewood vases and classical paintings; the other side of the Bankstown “bovver boy” who loved antiques and classical music. Verity Hampson's lighting plot gave the set a classical glow.

We had a slide projector to show us his old home, his mum and dad, his young self, and lots of chat about his days as manager of a rock band. We had many of his memorable put-downs of his opponents, some language which was downright crude, but endlessly funny. One of the most profane lines was much too rude to publish, but it got the biggest and loudest laugh of the night.

Biggins gave us a couple of songs too, ending the night with a rousing That’s Life.

The Gospel According to Paul was one of the most entertaining one-man shows I have seen. I strongly urge you to see it.

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