Political Animals by Shortis & Simpson, with
cartoons by Geoff Pryor. The Street
Theatre Studio May 18 to
Satire can be such sweet revenge, sometimes bitter sorrow – but not too much of the latter, or it will become less entertainment and more pill to swallow. John Shortis gives us the whole gamut, though the balance is best achieved in the second half of Political Animals.
The offending cartoons include Amanda Vanstone as the migrating mutton bird who should have stayed at home, guess who as Gorillis Kirribillis, Kimbat the almost wombat, Costello the Bull, the Julia Bird, Sugar Glider Bob, and the empty cage from which the Nationals animals have escaped and gone wild. The songs, derived from Pryor’s pictures, vary in tone from the quite frightening Gorillis who would dictate to all 20 million of us if not kept on what looked like a rather flimsy leash, to the wonderfully sweet-dreaming green and brown sugar glider in the old-growth forest who stops the Stihl, which leads us into the poem “How Stihl the pool…” where we discover the sharp-beaked Julia Bird who pecks at nasty chain-saws.
Not all the songs succeeded - the fighting bull, for example, was a fuzzy concept – but much of the writing was more original than in previous shows and more captivating musically, especially when pre-recorded by the excellent string quartet Vincent G Edwards, Har-bei Seng, Olga Haydon and Charlotte Winslade. Moya Simpson found a stronger and richer voice to match the moods and the imitations of past popular singers, which gave an extra point to the satirical lyrics which covered many topics in songs beyond the cartoons – like Sadaam in the guise of a Cockney spiv offering a deal to the AWB where they pay him to buy their wheat.
the only politician brave enough to attend opening night, explained, when
invited onto the stage, why politicians hate satirists and cartoonists. “Who would come and pay to see us?” he asked. As Simpson interjected, “But we do – pay,
that is!”, he redeemed himself by pointing out the
value of satire, and the Shortis & Simpson tradition in
And so say all of us, say I.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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