Unwharfed though it may be after 20 years with Sydney Theatre Company, The Wharf Revue knows the value of brand name continuity. To a politically plugged-in, loyal crowd fond of their pre-Christmas theatre rituals, it has returned as an independent company to send up the year that was and the powerful fools who headlined it.

The Wharf Revue Can of Works

Phillip Scott, Mandy Bishop, Jonathan Biggins and Drew Forsythe in The Wharf Revue: Can of Worms. Photo © Vishal Pandey

The show was inevitably a little shaggier in its production values without the STC buck behind it (addressed as a first order of silly business with a rueful shrug, smile and song – although the show notes suggest that they still have loan of a few props and wigs). But creatively too, this 21st edition never rose above the moderately amusing – feeling a bit like an extended Saturday Night Live episode slapped together when the best writers were on strike. Rupert Murdoch’s satanic soul; Jacinda Ardern having to placate an infantile Scomo; a smirking joke among politicians about the Sydney Harbour being for the public. With a few exceptions,...