The recent opening night of the musical Keating! at Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre was an equally intriguing and emotionally complex occasion.A musical fantasy about Paul Keating. This really has to rank up there on the ‘Please, God Help Us’ list.
. . .no sooner had we settled somewhat uneasily into our seats, with all eyes on Paul and his daughters, than the bigger, bolder Neil Armfield production had the audience cheering. They loved Mike McLeish’s elegant Keating, Bennetto’s drag queen Downer and Terry Serio’s double-act as both a Les Pattersonian Hawke and a sinister, hiss-boo Howard.A play, idolising a fantasy Paul Keating, a lefty ex-PM clobbered by John Howard in a landslide brought on by the fact that Keating was the most hated Australian politician ever.
And when he discovered that this production had taken liberties with history and had a happy ending, he shared the elation. Howard loses! Keating wins again! Honest John is booed from the stage like a panto villain. . .
This is adulatory nonsense, of course. A nastily exhibitionist, lefty wet dream. That the comrades don’t see how basically warped this is, though, how strange and actually quite disturbing, and, given its far darker echoes, how deeply revealing, is possibly the most worrying aspect of all.
Dear Führer. . .