Satirical television comedy group The Chaser, best known for their ABC series War on Everything, invariably put together a sequence of tongue-in-cheek episodes for the national broadcaster in the lead-up to each federal election since 2001.
So they were startled when they learnt late last year that the ABC would not be presenting a political send-up series in the weeks leading up to this year's federal election.
This contributed to them putting together a touring live show, The War on 2019, which looks in an amusing manner at things government ministers and other politicians have done.
The War on 2019 will have a performance at Newcastle CityHall's concert venue on Thursday, November 21 at 8pm, with the actors as, among others, ScoMo (Scott Morrison), Dutto (Peter Dutton) and Frydo (Josh Frydenberg).
The satirical team includes Charles Firth, one of the founders of The Chaser, James Schloeffel (The Shovel), Mark Humphries (ABC TV's 7:30) and comedy company Freudian Nip's Jenna Owen and Victoria Zerbst (SBS's The Feed).
Firth is on record as noting that the ABC said they didn't have the money to put a pre-election show together, and that "it's not the institution it once was". An ABC spokesman, on the other hand, denied that the group made a pitch to the broadcaster to make a new election special and said that the group had already begun negotiating with commercial rivals. Firth subsequently admitted that they had spoken to commercial companies, but pointed out that advertisers didn't want to be surrounded by "out-there, overtly political, slightly dangerous stuff".
The Chaser has certainly helped to raise the profiles of some performers, including Craig Reucassel and Julian Morrow, who went on to co-host The Checkout, a showthat regularly had 1.2 million viewers. And the 2004 series, The Chaser Decides, won the year's Logie Award for most outstanding comedy program.
Tickets for The War on 2019 range from $30 (B Reserve), $40 (A Reserve), and $60 (VIP). Book through the Civic Theatre on 4929 1977.
The War on 2019 ... looks in an amusing manner at things government ministers and other politicians have done.
Theatre on Brunker, at St Stephen's Hall, Adamstown
Ends November 30
THE title of English playwright Lucy Kirkwood's comedy-drama is a reference to the fact it is often the small things in life that create the most problems, with one character noting mosquitoes cause more deaths than terrorists.
The play's central characters are two sisters, Alice (played by Rosemary Dartnell), who is a scientist at a Swiss research centre examining the role that small particles have in the universe, and Jenny (Jan Hunt), a woman living in a small English town whose belief in what she sees on social media leads to health problems. Jenny, accompanied by their mother, Karen (Linda Rennie), a former scientist who became a victim of male domination, go to Geneva to stay with Alice to try to help Jenny recover from an accident she could have avoided.
Mosquitoes has been popular since it premiered in London in 2017, and it is a credit to Theatre on Brunker that this is the second Australian production, following a Sydney Theatre Company staging in April-May this year.
Watchers at the opening night performance certainly found it to be engaging, with people noting at the intermission how they'd experienced similar problems.
Director Meri Bird has drawn good performances from the cast. Liam Bird is Alice's teenage son, Luke, who is attracted to a fellow student, Natalie (Jade Dray), but his very boisterous words and movements don't appeal to her.
The Boson (Patrick Campbell) is a largely wordless scientist who might have had a relationship with Alice, and on a couple of occasions reveals what is happening at the research institute (interestingly, a real place). Dudley Horque is Henri, Alice's current boyfriend, whose unsmiling appearances have him telling people that he is Swiss not French, and Megan Williams, Monica Howlett, Colin Campbell and Sue Shaw in various roles.
And That's Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Footlice Theatre, at the Civic Playhouse, Newcastle
Ended November 2
A STAGE work that has a male actor delivering about 350 four-line verses that he wrote might not seem to be audience-grabbing, but Grahame Cooper, under the direction of Fiona Mundie, made this a very enjoyable laugh-raising work.
Cooper, who won a Best New Play CONDA Award for a previous work, based the verses on things he had done and seen other people do. And while he spent much of the 70-minute staging time sitting in an armchair, he frequently moved around the stage and audience, interacting with the watchers and doing things mentioned in the rhymes, such as finger-lickin' and speaking on a mobile phone.
There was occasionally engaging background music, such as the song Waiting at the Station, which added to the amusement.
The verses looked at many topics, among them meetings with people, relationships, wedding nights, pets and other animals, prescribed polls, soldiers and war, and Christmas get-togethers.
There was an amusing reference to being banned from a gym and an attention-grabbing one re prescribed political polls.