MICF - Drowsy Drivers Die: Keating!
There are not many operas whose dramatic climax hinges on the arrival of postal votes from Antarctica, but Keating! (yep, with an exclamation mark at the end) is one of them. The cast of eight sings, plays, dances and acts their way through the reign of Paul – or pall of Paul, depending on your politics – in a way that captivates both the hardcore political watches as well as the casual musical buff. A basic knowledge of 1990s Australian politics is a prerequisite for making sense of the silliness, although anyone who lived through the period will be able to appreciate the characterisations. Though the players have an obvious affection for Keating as the hero rather than villain, political figures off all sides get their comeuppance, from a Cheryl-and-Gareth dalliance, to a frankenfurter Downer to the silver haired bodgie, Hawke. The songwriting is exceptionally strong, with pacey, clever lyrics combining with a range of musical styles (the promo bills the show rather eclectically as a ‘country, soul and funk opera’). At some points, the writers seem to delight in throwing in the most far-flung and obscure political references that they can find, including a truly bizarre video featuring ABC election guru Antony Green as the singing psephologist. Come the final curtain, Keating! is a cute and likeable concept brilliantly executed by an enthusiastic and talented cast.